Vanity Fair won’t take down the controversial passage that revealed how Angelina Jolie and her casting directors selected the Cambodian lead child star of her new film. On its website, the magazine released a statement that they have reviewed the interview’s audiotape and that they will continue to side with writer Evgenia Peretz.
On July 26, Vanity Fair published “A Life in Bold,” Angelina’s first sit-down interview ever since she parted ways with Brad Pitt. In the story, the actress talked about her fallen marriage, her Bell’s palsy¸ and her adjustments as a new single parent.
Some readers and media outlets, however, noticed a specific response from Angelina in which she detailed the casting exercise that they did in Cambodia for her new film, First They Killed My Father.
“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.”
According to the writer’s story, Angelina said that Srey Moch Sareum was chosen because she “became overwhelmed with emotion” when she was asked to return the money. The girl said that they needed the money to give her grandfather a nice funeral.
Social media users were quick to call the game as “cruel” as it played with the emotions of vulnerable children. Angelina refuted Vanity Fair’s report and told Huffington Post that the audition was a mere pretend exercise. “I would be outraged myself if this had happened,” she said.
First They Killed My Father producer Rithy Panh said that the children who auditioned were not tricked as opposed to what the story suggested. The children have been reportedly informed that the scene was fictitious. Guardians and representatives of several non-profit organizations also accompanied them on set. He said that therapists visited the children at home to ensure they weren’t affected by the exercise.
The mother-of-six has tapped her lawyers to ask Vanity Fair to retract the “mistakenly” reported statements. As per the magazine, Angelina’s legal team asked them to remove the statements from the online story and issue a follow-up article entitled “Angelina Jolie Correction” in Vanity Fair’s October edition – both in digital and print forms.
It appears that the magazine won’t do so because Vanity Fair opted to reproduce a transcript of Angelina’s story about the casting.
“But it was very hard to find a little Loung. And so it was what they call a slum school. I don’t think that’s a very nice word for it, but a school for kids in very poor areas. And I think, I mean they didn’t know. We just went in and — you just go in and do some auditions with the kids.”
She continued that the casting was “interesting” and that the country was filled with talented children.
First They Killed My Father is a film based on Loung Ung’s autobiography. In the novel, the Cambodian human rights activist recalled the horrors her family faced under the Khmer Rouge which took away the lives of two million Cambodians.
[Featured Image by Jordan Pix/Getty Images]