Is there a customer service line for humanitarian complaints? If so, then they’re no doubt very busy today fielding calls from people demanding Angelina Jolie be stripped of her title for the questionable shenanigans she pulled in Cambodia while casting First They Killed My Father.
In the same Vanity Fair interview where Angelina got deep about her post-split life, her kids, and a Bell’s palsy diagnosis, she talks about how she found the perfect child actors for the film. Did she go to Cambodia’s version of Lil’ Stars Talent Agency? Hold a casting call in the biggest mall in Phnom Penh? Not exactly.
To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship.
That’s an…interesting route to go. Casting directors also had kind of a messed up approach when it came to casting the part of Loung Ung, the little girl at the heart of First They Killed My Father (the real Loung Ung wrote the memoir that the film is based on).
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. “Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie says.
“When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.” Jolie then tears up. “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.”
Unsurprisingly, The Daily Mail says some people were not feeling Angelina’s casting techniques and they let their feelings be known on Twitter. Some people accused Angelina of psychological cruelty, others tweeted Angelina’s friends at the United Nations, asking for their thoughts on the matter.
Angelina says that, given the subject matter of the film, a therapist was on set every day of shooting. Uh, yeah. That’s probably a good idea. Imagine being an orphan who gets to meet Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, and instead of getting adopted, you’re forced to play some weird game of take the money/don’t take the money? That’s the kind of thing therapy was made for.