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  1. ITV Report

Angelina Jolie denies accusations of 'cruel' child auditions during casting for new film in Cambodia

Jolie says the account of her casting process for children for her film described in a recent Vanity Fair profile is false and upsetting Credit: AP Photo/Heng Sinith

Angelina Jolie has denied claims that casting directors for her new film taunted child actors in Cambodia with money as part of a 'cruel' casting exercise, saying it was all part of a “pretend exercise in an improvisation.”

The Hollywood actress said a depiction of the casting process that appeared in Vanity Fair which has led to the improvisation exercise being construed as a real scenario had been "false and upsetting" and that she herself would be "outraged" if it had been true.

She said: "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's comments came after the publication of an article which described how casting directors for the film 'First They Killed My Father' presented money to impoverished children, only to take it away from them, as an acting exercise, sparked a public backlash.

Jolie with two of the film's child actors Credit: AP Photo/Heng Sinith

Producer Rithy Panh, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime which the film centres on, said casting "was done in the most sensitive way possible" and "the children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested."

He said: "They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe."

Jolie and Panh also clarified that parents, guardians and doctors were on set every day to care for the child actors and to "make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country's history".

Vanity Fair also issued a statement on Sunday saying author Evgenia Peretz "clearly describes what happened during the casting process as a 'game'" and that there was far more detail about the production than the one paragraph that circulated on Twitter.

The publication added that Peretz had made clear "that the film-makers went to extraordinary lengths to be sensitive in addressing the psychological stresses on the cast and crew that were inevitable in making a movie about the genocide carried out in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge".