Angelina Jolie is the last person you would expect to be cruel to kids, but the casting methods for her latest movie project First They Killed My Father has come under fire from critics.
She may have been appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2001, and has since become Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has adopted three children, as well as having three of her own, and reportedly split with her husband Brad Pitt over his treatment of their children.
But now the actress and director has come under question for some casting methods reportedly used for her new movie, which is set in Cambodia. It’s an adaptation of Jolie’s friend Loung Ung’s personal account of life in Cambodia as a child during the country’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
During an in depth interview with Vanity Fair, Jolie outlined the casting process used for the children in the picture, which involved searching through orphanages, schools in impoverished areas, and circuses
She wanted to find a child who had known “hardship”, and methods later used in auditions have come in for some intense criticism.
The article says how the process of casting the movie’s lead went down:
“In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, the casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: 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.”
As Jolie herself also said:
“Srey Moch 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.”
Many online commentators have viewed the process as unnecessarily cruel, and it has sparked uproar online.
Meanwhile, Jolie has said that she hopes the movie helps to connect her son Maddox, who she adopted from a Cambodian orphanage in 2002, with his home country:
“I’m doing this for [Ung], for her family, for Cambodia and very much also for Maddox, so he learns about who he is and becomes that much more connected to his country.”
Jolie, who directed the Netflix film, has said in a statement that it was “false and upsetting” how people have misinterpreted the casting process.
“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,” she says,
“The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war and to help fight to protect them. 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.”
“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”.
What do you think? Is this a step too far, even if the scenario and the money were not real? Let us know by COMMENTING and SHARING!