Angelina Jolie Refutes Vanity Fair Excerpt Depicting Controversial Casting Process: ‘I Am Upset’

Angelina Jolie
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Angelina Jolie is refuting a Vanity Fair cover story that described a controversial casting process for her movie “First They Killed My Father.”

According to the excerpt, Jolie and her casting associates placed money on a table and allowed the children auditioning for the Cambodian film to take it. However, after taking the money, the director then “caught” the kids, and forced them to explain why they needed the cash. Srey Moch was ultimately chosen for the part.

“Moch was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie is quoted as saying. “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.”

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Jolie now says that the process described in the profile was misconstrued, and was “a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film.” In a statement to Variety on Sunday, Jolie noted that she was “upset” by the allegations.

“The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting,” she wrote. “I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”

“First They Killed My Father” is based on the 2000 book by Loung Ung. The story is a personal retelling of Ung’s survival of the Pol Pot regime. The film will be released on Netflix in September.

Statements from Angelina Jolie and producer Rithy Panh — who himself is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge — can be viewed in full below:

Jolie: Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history.

I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. 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.

The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.

Panh: I want to comment on recent reports about the casting process for Angelina Jolie’s ‘First They Killed My Father,’ which grossly mischaracterize how child actors were selected for the film, and I want to clear up the misunderstandings.

Because so many children were involved in the production, Angelina and I took the greatest care to ensure their welfare was protected. Our goal was to respect the realities of war, while nurturing everyone who helped us to recreate it for the film.

The casting was done in the most sensitive way possible. The children were from different backgrounds. Some were underprivileged; others were not. Some were orphans. All of the children were tended to at all times by relatives or carers from the NGOs responsible for them. The production team followed the families’ preferences and the NGO organizations’ guidelines. Some of the auditions took place on the NGOs’ premises.
Ahead of the screen tests, the casting crew showed the children the camera and the sound recording material. It explained to them that they were going to be asked to act out a part: to pretend to steal petty cash or a piece of food left unattended and then get caught in the act. It relates to a real episode from the life of Loung Ung, and a scene in the movie, when she and her siblings were caught by the Khmer Rouge and accused of stealing.

The purpose of the audition was to improvise with the children and explore how a child feels when caught doing something he or she is not supposed to be doing.

We wanted to see how they would improvise when their character is found ‘stealing’ and how they would justify their action. The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested. They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe. What made Srey Moch, who was chosen for the lead role of Loung Ung, so special was that she said that she would want the money not for herself, but for her grandfather.

Great care was taken with the children not only during auditions, but throughout the entirety of the film’s making. They were accompanied on set by their parents, other relatives or tutors. Time was set aside for them to study and play. The children’s well-being was monitored by a special team each day, including at home, and contact continues to the present. Because the memories of the genocide are so raw, and many Cambodians still have difficulty speaking about their experiences, a team of doctors and therapists worked with us on set every day so that anyone from the cast or crew who wanted to talk could do so.

The children gave their all in their performances and have made all of us in the production, and, I believe, in Cambodia, very proud.

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  1. Bey says:

    take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming others you narcissist.

  2. Nathalie says:

    It’s fascinating that so many people believe everything they read. Before you read anything, you should think “is this really credible?” Angelina has kids of her own, and she has done a lot of good. This is clearly a misunderstanding. I feel bad for Angelina – she’s making an incredibly important movie, and she gets bad, mean and immature comments for it. And really, calling her a homewrecker? Like she “stole” Brad? Yeez, get over it people.

  3. Me says:

    So much jealous hissing. Put your pitchforks down. All you’re doing in reinforcing the fact that somebody misconstrued the situation and used it to vilify her or perhaps twisted the facts on purpose.

    It didn’t happen. That’s the point. Her private life has zero to do with it. While I have never seen one of her movies and I don’t think she’s the most gorgeous woman in the history of the universe or whatever, that has zero to do with the fact that these are false accusations. As for waiting a couple of days, perfectly normal to see where they came from.

    • SayWhat says:

      I agree that I don’t believe that it happened the way Vanity fair depicted it. No matter what, that’s not Jolie style when it comes to kids. I definitely feel that her looks and her Personal life has nothing to do with her making a movie of a historical event. I have seen Jolie movies and some have been fantastic. I especially, loved her movie “SALT”

    • media manipulator jolie says:

      she has kids of her own so???? she is evil and heartless and she will always be a home wrecker whether you or her like it or not. brad got played like a fiddle by this vindictive and bitter witch. now he paid the prize for cheating and I don’t feel sorry for him either. both reaped what they sowed.

  4. Shame on you Angelina says:

    Hurting other women by destryoing their marriages/relationships by sleeping with their men wasn’t enough for Angelina. We are dealing with a mentally ill, unstable and dysfunctional woman here so am not surprised

  5. Zep says:

    This wicked, psychopath and calculating woman is upset she got called out because Vanity Fair described it exactly like she said it. A cruel game played on poor innocent kids.

  6. Liar says:

    Narcissist like Angelina always blame others for her mistakes. It was her own words in that VF interview but she didn’t see anything wrong with the cruel games she played on those kids until she was called out.

  7. HO says:

    Angelina jolie went from being a homewrecker to child abuse. She is a master of media manipulator, cunning and heartless. Not to talk of her being so arrogant and smug and always uses her kids for PR. shame on you for using poor kids and refugees to rehab your image.

  8. Ellie says:

    Good Lord, these comments are off the rails.

  9. Tennessee says:

    Well we shall soon see a response from Vanity Fair, I’m sure. The writer is a longtime contributing editor who is no lightweight, steeped in political reporting, having covered the Florida election recount, among other things. This will be good.

  10. Mario says:

    Anyone who is disgsuted by Miss Jolie and her cruelty methods on those orphans. please sign a petiton to boycott FTKMF for the very same reason.

  11. rnathan90291 says:

    It’s not the first time Angelina has taken advantage of people and caused a trail of hurt. Her way of thinking is something I have been wary of. It’s how she came to be in the position she is in. It’s not to say she hasn’t done some good in her life, but the thing I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RESPECT about her is that she damages people’s lives and then holds her hands up and claims innocence. She cannot look at herself objectively and own the ways she manipulates to get whatever she wants to the detriment of others and in VERY UNETHICAL WAYS. She did not have to “play with the devil” to get this film made or to buy her property. She could have gone next door to Vietnam or Thailand to make her film and make it with talented actors who would have been just as good without reinacting with orphans and survivors. This way she could be critical of the prime minister who had a hand in genocide instead of cozying up with him to benefit herself. I shudder when I think of how she got her property in Cambodia. UN Envoy my ass. They are her pals who get her what she wants. Despicable. I actually do try to appreciate the good traits she has and then she does something ‘uncool’ again and I can’t. Then there are the rumors we all know are true…the ladies she mistreated…Jerry Hall, Laura Dern, Uma Thurman, Francesca Annis, Aniston…

  12. Patty says:

    Just the thought that a celebrity working with the UN to “help” refugees is using that position to direct and profit from movies is disgusting.She is doing nothing but raising awareness about herself

  13. Julia says:

    Assuming it happened as the statements say, now I wonder about that narrative that Angelina is a great master of PR. Also, as it was already commented, these statements only focus on the children situation, not the dictators/army collaboration.

    I also wonder who gave the info to vanity fair, if not Angelina. This isn’t a tabloid magazine, I find it hard to believe they would be creative abt the audition process if given the inforamtion present in these statements. And this interview was supposed to promote Angelina after the divorce, so it had a positive approach in mind. Clearly, it didn’t work.

    EDIT: Also, it took her 3/4 days to give this statement. Not a very good strategy I suppose.

    • Citney Anise says:

      I hope you’re joking when you say VF is not a tabloid. VF has been in the tabloid business for a while now. They are not above “embellishing” a story. Check it out, this is not their first big “Oops”.

  14. Ellie says:

    Don’t know what is weirdest: the original story, AJ’s response or the comments.

    • Citney Anise says:

      What is “weird” about Angelina’s response of the false statements by the journalist (and I use that word scathingly) who wrote the article ?

      • Ellie says:

        Thank you for proving my point about the comments.

        And thanks for letting me know that you’re using the word scathingly; not quite sure how it applies, but it is entertaining.

  15. Rudy Mario says:

    There is something missing or not right in this woman’s head.

    • rnathan90291 says:

      That is my feeling. I concur.

    • Citney Anise says:

      Why? Because she’s too beautiful, too intelligent, too concerned with the people who have nothing, too rich? Exactly what makes her “not right in the head” as you so eloquently put it?

      I’m curious as to why anyone can be so critical of someone they have never met.

      • Rudy Mario says:

        Was beautiful 20 years ago. But is cuckoo for ever. Before saving the rest of the world she and you need to first take care of your own family first. Even her kids seem weird.

      • Ellie says:

        Citney Anise, please, please, get a life. AJ doesn’t know you, or me, or any of us commenting here; and I doubt she gives a flip about my criticsm and/or your support.

        Really, lighten up, none of this matters.

      • rnathan90291 says:

        I’m curious as to why anyone can be so obsessed with defending someone they have never met

  16. Jossy says:

    damage control

  17. Kim Mcgillivray says:

    It is poposterous to ever think that Angelina Jolie would ever do anything to harm a child- in any fashion. She has always shown to be the courageous, outspoken voice of children everywhere who cannot speak for themselves. She has donated millions of dollars to children’s charities.
    Anyone who speaks against her great works is clearly desperate to sell a magazine and clearly devoid of any sense of humanity.

  18. Donna Goforth says:

    Heartbreaking! I will NEVER believe Angelina Jolie would EVER put a child in a situation like that in the first place. Acting is exactly that, ACTING, to get ready for what is to come. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if she didn’t pay for that child’s Grandfather’s funeral and help the family herself. A lot is going in her life but turning her back on children and even remotely suggesting they did that is beyond ridiculous! Prayers for the child who lost a grandparent. I hope she continues to help out children around the world. I Love ‘Who’ she is and everyone has personal problems, we just don’t have to share them with the world.

    • Kim Mcgillivray says:

      I hope you know, that was a scenario, set up for the audition. All of the children knew it was an audition and that child made up that story knowing such. You have a great heart. So good of you to care so much!

  19. Having produced several short films with extraordinary talented actors, I know the “improvisational” process of developing a scene wherein what the viewer experience is drama but drawn from real emotion. This is when the actor bares themselves “naked” spiritually and psychologically.

    Angelina have adopted children from Southeast Asia, she is a well-accomplished director as well as actor; the story for the film she is presently working on is no doubt a labor of love and one of emotional intensity.

    The true nature of these children under her direction is essentially to conveying to a secular audience what the rest of the world may not feel in context to the tenor of the times and the conditions these kids live under.

  20. Cheyenne says:

    If you believe Angelina would do this you need therapy or you’re a tRump loving troll!

  21. Sean McConnell says:

    It’s easy to believe the worst when it comes to Angelina Jolie because she has done awful things to so many accomplished, respected and admired people. Publicly trying to destroy the father of her children for the great crime of falling out of love with her? Of all the weird and lunatic stuff she has done, this was the final straw for me. If you can’t put your children’s interests ahead of your own interests then you are a despicable human being.

    • Citney Anise says:

      By the way, Angie DUMPED Brad.

      • Sean McConnell says:

        Nope, but it’s fine if you want to keep believing her PR machine.

        Angelina Jolie certainly filed for divorce but it’s fairly common knowledge he had already been gone a long time. Although living separately, he never would have filed for divorce because he wanted to protect the kids. Brad Pitt cares more about his kids than his own happiness and he would’ve stayed married to her until the last one left home.

        The complete opposite of Angelina, who parades the kids, uses them in her publicity campaigns, and then when her PR machine fails in its quest to promote ‘Saint Angelina’ she makes excuses and statements of outrage. That VF reporter did a great job of exposing a sadly selfish woman who cannot confront her own failings, wrongdoings, and the great harm she has done to colleagues, industry peers, and her own family.

    • Citney Anise says:

      Could you explain what you mean by “awful” and “lunatic stuff” Angelina has allegedly done? For the life of me I can’t think of anything. Has she been arrested and had PR cover it up…no. does she have have a hit and run in her past…….

  22. JE Vizzusi says:

    She never gets a break! First off she is not the Casting Director. If there is really a problem then somebody can take it up with SAG. The hiring of children is heavily regulated. Especially since The Twilight Zone Movie tragedy’s. This is more of a audition and a Directors call.. so be it. I would think she would be the best Director, Producer on the planet when hiring children. @JEV1A

  23. You tell ’em Angie girl! Love & light from Lake Hartwell, GA. XOXO

  24. JJ says:

    brad is a cheater and cheated on first wife, he is an emotional abuser, big mouth bully, missing a sensitivity chip, and passive aggressor and the fact that he wasn’t guilty in the child abuse case doesn’t make him innocent. something really happened on that plane but he is all about his image and doesn’t want it out but eventually would just like how their fake “happy family” bs and lustful relationship that was build on lies, deceit and betrayal finally imploded.

  25. Truth says:

    Angelina is a liar, manipulator, and cheat herself. I will not disclose it because it is not my place. She projected her issues and personality traits on to him and then he had to agree to take the blame or admit to a vice, in order to avoid a messy court battle. Brad is not a cheater and he has denied all of those allegations and it is sad that conniving exes operate on smear campaigns to brainwash naive people. She planted false stories about rentboys and hookers as well as make false charges of abuse. Brad has not been passive aggressive, he denied lies and false accusations from opportunistic exes covering up their real selves to the public eye. He has been classy in his restraint and doesn’t play dirty. Taraji never outed them or used the term open relationship but said that they let each other be with other people when asked about jealousy on sets. He was cleared legally and officially from false charges of child abuse. I see a certain person is spreading vitriol in the posts. Any controversy or mess with Jolie, they choose to drag Brad into it with their agenda.

  26. Nick says:

    I believe Angie.

    The “Vanity Fair” description of the so-called ‘casting process’ – which was actually an improv scene with fake money – didn’t ring true to me. It seems like the reporter tried to made his article more ‘interesting’ by ‘misunderstanding’ some facts.

    It’s just like Jessica Chastain screaming “RAPE!” after she heard, that Bertolucci and Brando improvised the ‘butter scene’ – but without any sexual intercourse of course ;-)

    And I agree with the complaint about Danny Boyle’s treatment of the “Slumdog” kids:
    What they did was much more cruel in a way. To treat them like little stars – and then drop them
    back into their slum after the global success – feels wrong. Because they will never adjust to their former
    life again. I’m glad that the producers did more for them after the public outrage.

    Poverty is no joke.
    It shouldn’t be exploited for entertainment.

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