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Angelina Jolie denies luring kids with money for film, interview transcripts say otherwise

Angelina Jolie’s film, First They Killed My Father, has run into troubled waters after she said in an interview that kids were lured with money to be cast in her film.

hollywood Updated: Aug 04, 2017 11:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Angelina Jolie,First They Killed My Father,Kids
Angelina Jolie speaking during a visit to British Peace Support Team in Kenya. (AP)

Angelina Jolie’s new film as director, First They Killed My Father, got embroiled in controversy after she revealed how they cast child actors in the film in an interview to Vanity Fair.

Jolie wanted to find children who had experienced real hardship in their lives, and devised a game, which even she called ‘disturbing in its realism’, to find the perfect actor. The kids from slums and orphanages would be offered money which would be snatched away if the child couldn’t provide a good enough reason for why they want it.

The actor then told Huffington Post: “The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”

Vanity Fair, however, has released transcripts from her interview to Evgenia Peretz which clearly suggest that Jolie mentioned real money (and cookies) being used to cast the kids. Read the part here:

AJ: But it was very hard to find a little Loung. And so it was what they call a slum school. I don’t think that’s a very nice word for it, but a school for kids in very poor areas.

And I think, I mean they didn’t know. We just went in and—you just go in and do some auditions with the kids. And it’s not really an audition with children. We had this game where it would be—and I wasn’t there and they didn’t know what they were really doing. They kind of said, “Oh, a camera’s coming up and we want to play a game with you.” And the game for that character was “We’re going to put some money on the table. Think of something that you need that money for.” Sometimes it was money, sometimes it was a cookie. [Laughter] “And then take it.” And then we would catch them. “We’re going to catch you, and we’d like you to try to lie that you didn’t have it.”

So it was very interesting seeing the kids and how they would—some were very conscious of the camera. They were actually—there are so many talented kids in this country. But Srey Moch was the only child that stared at that money for a very, very long time before she picked it up, and then bravely, brazenly lying, like was trying to hide, but then she also kind of—

EP: Wait. This is the girl, Loung.

AJ: This is the girl. And then when she was forced to give it back became very kind of like strong, emotional, she became overwhelmed with emotion that she was—and she just—all of these different things flooded out. And I don’t think she or her family would mind me saying when she was later asked what that money was for, she said her grandfather died and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.

Vanity Fair also mentioned Jolie’s lawyer contacted after the story was published, saying that the writer had “mistakenly” reported the incident, and asked them to run a statement: “The casting crew showed the children the camera and sound recording material, explaining to them that they were going to be asked to act out a part. . . . The children were not tricked as some have suggested. . . . All of the children auditioning were made aware of the fictional aspect of the exercise and were tended to at all times by relatives or guardians from NGOs. . . . We apologize for any misunderstanding.”

The magazine, however, stands with their writer and the interview as it was first published.

Jolie had said in the interview that she wanted to find children who had experienced real hardship in their lives, and devised a game to find the perfect actor.

“In order to find their lead, the casting directors set up a game: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie,” the article said.

Jolie eventually settled on Sareum Srey Moch because she was “the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time. When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back. When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”

First They Killed My Father will be released on Netflix, like Brad Pitt’s last film, War Machine. Her son, Maddox, was adopted from Cambodia, and the country holds a special place in Jolie’s heart.

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First Published: Aug 04, 2017 11:23 IST