Angelina Jolie temporarily lost the imaginary halo hovering over her head last week after a Vanity Fair cover story came out and had some people accusing her of unnecessary emotional cruelty to poor little Cambodian kids. According to the story, the search for child actors for First They Killed My Father happened in orphanages, circuses, and slums. The audition process reportedly involved playing a game of snatching money, pretending to get caught, then having the money snatched back. If Lisa Rowe ran a casting agency, she’d be like “Interesting, tell me more about your methods.”
Well, Angelina isn’t sitting by while the internet cusses her out for those dark-sided shenanigans. On Saturday, she released a statement about the casting experience for First They Killed My Father. Not exactly a plot twist: she has implied that Vanity Fair twisted everything out of context. By the way Angelina tells it, it’s almost like Vanity Fair wanted to make her look bad. Was the article ghost written by Scott Rudin? We may never know.
Here’s the statement via HuffPo:
“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.”
Rithy Panh, a producer on the film, also had thoughts (about three times as many as Angelina’s, actually). You can read his whole statement at HuffPo, but he basically says the reports “grossly mischaracterize” the casting process on the film, and that the “greatest care” was taken when working with the children. He also adds that kids weren’t just selected from orphanages and the like, but that “some were underprivileged; others were not.”
The Huffington Post reached out to Vanity Fair for a comment, but they chose not to respond.
Angelina and her crew were also accused of actively collaborating with an army that has a not-great reputation of human rights violations, but Angelina hasn’t said anything about that.
I’m still a little skeptical about Angelina Jolie’s methods. I know she swears the kids knew they were playing a game, but I need to know what kind of money was used. She implies it wasn’t real money. But what is real money to a kid? When I was a kid, my piggy bank contained pennies, several Pesos from someone else’s vacation, a brass button that looked like a Loonie, and Kool-Aid points. She better not have been playing with Kool-Aid points. That’s too real! You can buy a fanny pack with those.