Auditioning for an acting job is a weird and scary experience, but according to a Vanity Fair story, Angelina Jolie and the casting people working on her new film First They Killed My Father found a way to make it weirder and scarier. The movie is based on Loung Ung’s 2000 book of the same name, and it’s about her life under Pol Pot’s regime. According to the story, Jolie and the team were trying to find child actors in Cambodia who had “experienced hardship,” and as part of their crazy audition scheme, they purposefully left some money on a table and waited until the kids took it. After that, someone would come in, catch the kid, and force them to explain why they did it.
In the Vanity Fair story, Jolie explains that one kid, Srey Moch, “became overwhelmed with emotion” when she was “caught,” and she said that she needed the money to pay for a nice funeral for her recently deceased grandfather. This was evidently a good response, because Moch got the part. Vanity Fair notes that she had to give the money back, though, which is making this weird audition process seem even more controversial. Apparently, some people don’t really like it when you take money from a poor kid in Cambodia.
Jolie has released a statement now, though, that says the whole thing is a misunderstanding. She says the kids knew that the audition was a “pretend exercise in an improvisation” and that it was all a “game,” so nobody was being tricked. Also, the money wasn’t real, and the “getting caught while stealing” thing is from a scene in the movie, so it wasn’t just a twisted plan to see how kids react to getting in trouble.