Angelina Jolie refutes controversial audition process for new film First They Killed My Father

Angelina Jolie said that the "pretend exercise" had been misconstrued.
Angelina Jolie said that the "pretend exercise" had been misconstrued. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood actress and director Angelina Jolie has denied a report describing a controversial audition process for her new film First They Killed My Father, calling it "false and upsetting".

An excerpt from a Vanity Fair profile with the director last week had sparked backlash from the public, who felt that the casting methods used to discover Cambodian children to star in the film had been exploitative.

According to the excerpt, the film's casting directors had put money on a table in front of impoverished children for them to take, only to then snatch it from them and have them come up with a reason for why they needed it.

In the Vanity Fair interview, Jolie was quoted as saying: "Srey Moch (who was selected for the lead role) 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... 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."

In a statement released to Huffington Post, Jolie said that the "pretend exercise" had been misconstrued.

"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," Jolie said in the statement. "I would be outraged myself if this had happened."

First They Killed My Father is based on Cambodian-American Loung Ung's memoir of the same name about her experience as a survivor of the Khmer Rouge killings in the 1970s.