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Vanity Fair fired back at the Oscar winner in an article posted on its website Thursday afternoon, writing that “after reviewing the audiotape, V.F. stands by [Evgenia] Peretz’s story as published.” That statement came at the end of the story following a brief account of the controversy that swallowed the juicy celebrity profile — Jolie’s first sit-down interview since filing for divorce from Brad Pitt — ever since it was published July 26.
Following its initial publication, the story, titled “A Life in Bold,” was picked up immediately as dozens of outlets focused on her statements about her marriage, her Bell’s palsy diagnosis and her new home life as a single mother to the couple’s six children. However, it didn’t take long for other outlets and social media users to zero in on the specific passage in which Jolie describes the casting exercise with which she used to find child actors for her new film, First They Killed My Father, based on the book by Loung Ung.
“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,” Peretz writes in the story. “‘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.'”
The “game,” as many have called it, was immediately criticized and Jolie responded, accusing the magazine of misrepresenting what she said. On July 29, Jolie sent a lengthy statement to the Huffington Post to take issue with Peretz’s retelling of it. “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,” said Jolie, who was backed up by a similar statement from producer Rithy Panh. “The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened. The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”
Perez: Wait. This is the girl, Loung.
Jolie: This is the girl. And then when she was forced to give it back became very kind of like strong, emotional, she became overwhelmed with emotion that she was — and she just — all of these different things flooded out. And I don’t think she or her family would mind me saying when she was later asked what that money was for, she said her grandfather died and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.
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