Angelina Jolie is speaking out following a Vanity Fair profile that presented the multimillionaire multihyphenate’s filmmaking approach in a somewhat unflattering light. Specifically, the treatment of child actors attempting to earn a role in her film First They Killed My Father.
Jolie has come under fire over a reported “game” used in the audition process. The film, an adaptation of Loung Ung’s Khmer Rouge years moulded memoir, searched for members of the cast with visits to “orphanages, circuses and slum schools” to find actors for their drama. Casting directors would put money on the table, the child would be encouraged to think of what they would need the money for and the money would ultimately be snatched away. (As you can see from VF‘s example, it’s not a very cheery process.) The circumstances around the exercise gave off an aura of exploitation and cruelty to some readers.
In a statement released on Saturday, Jolie fought back against the Vanity Fair characterization. Jolie, who serves as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, swung back at claims of mistreatment. She stressed that no one was hurt by this process and that doctors, parents and other observers were on-hand during the exercise.
“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,” read Jolie’s statement.
Jolie, who directed the film, said the audition “game” described in the profile was an improvisation exercise based off a scene in the film. She also said real money was not taken from children during the auditions.