Vanity Fair Stands by Its Description of Angelina Jolie's Audition Process, Publishes Interview Transcript

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Vanity Fair published an article on Thursday defending Evgenia Perez, who wrote this month’s cover story on Angelina Jolie, a profile that included an upsetting anecdote about a method Jolie used to cast her Cambodian children for her upcoming film First They Killed My Father. In the original article, the story read as follows:

“To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship. 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. ‘Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,’ Jolie says. ‘When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.’ Jolie then tears up. ‘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.’”


On Tuesday, after readers pointed out that this sounded like a pretty insensitive and cruel way to go about auditioning kids, Jolie’s lawyer got in touch with Vanity Fair to inform them that Jolie’s account had been misrepresented in their writer’s story, claiming the “the children were not tricked, as some have suggested,” but were engaging in an acting exercise, of which they were well aware.

Whether or not Jolie’s lawyer’s characterization is truthful, it is not the truth reflected in the account Jolie gave Peretz for the story, as the interview transcript, published today, reveals.

“….AJ: 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. And it’s not really an audition with children. We had this game where it would be—and I wasn’t there and they didn’t know what they were really doing. They kind of said, ‘Oh, a camera’s coming up and we want to play a game with you.’ And the game for that character was ‘We’re going to put some money on the table. Think of something that you need that money for.’ Sometimes it was money, sometimes it was a cookie. [Laughter] ‘And then take it.’ And then we would catch them. ‘We’re going to catch you, and we’d like you to try to lie that you didn’t have it.’

So it was very interesting seeing the kids and how they would—some were very conscious of the camera. They were actually—there are so many talented kids in this country. But Srey Moch was the only child that stared at that money for a very, very long time before she picked it up, and then bravely, brazenly lying, like was trying to hide, but then she also kind of—…”

Well, there you have it.

Oh, there he is.

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contributing writer, nights



Jolie’s version of the story is the same as the story that the magazine printed - she doesn’t seem to get what was wrong with it in the first place. It doesn’t matter if YOU think ‘this is an acting exercise, this money is meaningless and the children don’t get to keep it anyway’ - to those kids they’re just seeing a pile of ways to keep their families alive and well and then it’s being taken away from them. That’s not an acting exercise that’s just torture for a reaction. It’s one of those things that people for whom a pile of money is always meaningless cos they have lots of it would NEVER in a million years understand. Jolie is a mum and she got her kids from these orphanages she’s finding her orphan actors - you’d think she’d have SOME idea.