American actress Angelina Jolie was not happy that people criticized the casting process for her movie as taking money away from poor children.
In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine last week, Jolie described a game that the casting directors played with the Cambodian children. The children were auditioning for the part of lead actor in the film "First They Killed My Father."
Jolie told Vanity Fair she looked for lead actors in orphanages, circuses and very poor schools.
In the casting process, each child was placed in front of money on a table. They were asked to think of what they needed the money for and then quickly take the money. Jolie would then act like she was catching them, and the child would have to lie about why they stole the money.
In a statement on Sunday, Jolie responded to the public criticism. She said this part of the audition was from a moment in the film and she was upset about it being treated like it were real life.
"The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting," she said. She added that she would be angry if that had happened to a child in real life.
For years, Angelina Jolie has been taking part in charity work internationally. She is also a special representative for the United Nations refugee agency.
Users on social media called Jolie's casting game unkind and abusive to poor children.
Vanity Fair reporter Evgenia Peretz said the casting game was troubling because of its connection to reality. Kayla Cobb is from the popular culture website Decider.com. She compared the game to a psychological thriller – a type of film that plays with the viewer's mind and fears.
Cobb wrote that the everyone should use better judgment and should not put real money in front of poor children in this way. She also wrote that no movie is worth psychologically harming so many children.
"First They Killed My Father" is about the 1970s Khmer Rouge government under which more than 1 million people died. The film is scheduled for release around the world and on Netflix in September.
Jolie said the young girl who won the lead acting part, Srey Moch, was chosen after she became emotional when forced to give the money back. During the audition, the girl said she needed the money to pay for her grandfather's funeral.
Rithy Panh is a Cambodian producer on the film. In a statement, he said, "The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested. They understood very well that this was acting."
I'm Alice Bryant.
This article was reported by Reuters. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
casting – n. (gerund) assigning an acting part in a film, play, video, or something else
audition – v. to test someone's talent in an audition
audition – n. a short performance to show the talents of someone, such as an actor or a musician
orphanage – n. a place where children whose parents have died can live and be cared for
circus – n. a traveling show that is often performed in a tent and that typically includes trained animals, clowns and acrobats
upset – adj. angry or unhappy