Angelina Jolie has been criticised for using a ‘cruel’ casting method for her latest film that saw her seek out impoverished Cambodian children.
The youngsters were given money, which was then taken away from them, and they were asked to come up with a reason why they needed it. Miss Jolie said that she wanted to elicit an ‘authentic connection to pain’ and auditioned children from orphanages, circuses and slum schools specifically because they had undergone terrible hardship.
The film, First They Killed My Father, was based on the memoir of a Cambodian woman, Loung Ung, set after the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and began a campaign of slaughter. Miss Jolie, 42, told Vanity Fair that she wanted the right person to play a young Miss Ung. The article said she looked at orphanages, circuses and slum schools to find children who had experienced hardship.
Casting directors then set up a game. They put money on the table, asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, then snatched it away.
Srey Moch, the girl chosen for the role, was ‘the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time’, Miss Jolie said.
‘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.’
However, critics on social media accused Miss Jolie of ‘torturing children’. Anna Silman said that the approach went against Miss Jolie’s reputation as a humanitarian and her work as a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, while another wrote: ‘This “casting game” Angelina Jolie subjected impoverish children to is monstrous and should not go unnoticed.’
Denizcan Targaryen tweeted: ‘Angelina Jolie is crazy. What a cruel psychological game to play with impoverished children.’ Another Twitter user, called Ellie, wrote: ‘Angelina Jolie really played a psychological game w/ impoverished kids instead of, you know, just having them audition like a normal person.’
Miss Jolie, whose adopted son Maddox, 15, was born in Cambodia, told Vanity Fair that some bystanders did not realise they were making a film and became traumatised when they saw events unfolding.
‘When the Khmer Rouge came over the bridge, we had a few people who really dropped to their knees and wailed. They were horrified to see them come back,’ she said.