Angelina Jolie has enjoyed a remarkable career in film.
A well loved actress and veritable paradigm of beauty to which many young women aspire, Jolie has also navigated a successful trajectory towards directing movies as well as acting in them.
Of course, no life is without its problems; Jolie has endured a divorce from long time partner Brad Pitt over the last year, and now the actress and director has come under fire for some questionable casting methods she reportedly employed for her new film, First They Killed My Father.
During a long and in depth interview with Vanity Fair, Jolie discussed the casting process for the children that were considered for the film, telling of her search through orphanages, schools in impoverished areas, and circuses, in her bid to find a child who had known “hardship”.
The methods subsequently used in the casting room, though, have come in for intense criticism.
Here’s how the process of casting “young Loung Ung”, a lead in the film, is described in the article;
“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.”
As Jolie herself expands;
“Srey Moch 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. 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.”
Unsurprisingly, the casting method has sparked fury among many online commentators, who viewed the process as unnecessarily cruel.
Meanwhile, Jolie has said that she hopes the film helps to connect her son Maddox, who she adopted from an orphanage in Cambodia in 2002, with his country;
“I’m doing this for [Ung], for her family, for Cambodia and very much also for Maddox, so he learns about who he is and becomes that much more connected to his country.”
First They Killed My Father is an adaptation of Angelina Jolie’s close friend Long Ung’s personal account of life in Cambodia as a child over the Khmer Rouge years. The film is reportedly set to be released with Netflix. The casting revelations that have caused such a furore came as part of a wider feature on Jolie for Vanity Fair, which also touched on her personal life in the wake of her divorce from fellow movie star Brad Pitt.
The Independent reports that while Angelina Jolie “doesn’t appear to have been present” at the time of the casting game, she also hasn’t moved to condemn the method.