When Angelina Jolie did her big Vanity Fair interview, she probably imagined that everyone would devour the quotes about Brad Pitt and the divorce and then move on.
Except it hasn’t really turned out that way, has it?
Sure, at first we analyzed the hell out of the quotes about Brad, but then we started to notice that there was something a little more scandalous tucked away elsewhere in the interview.
Specifically, it seemed like there was a story about Angelina traumatizing some poor Cambodian children to cast her new movie, First They Killed My Father.
And when we say the story was tucked away, we mean it — it was basically a short summary of a story she told, without many direct quotes from Angelina herself.
According to the story as it was originally published in Vanity Fair, Angelina and the rest of the crew wanted as much authenticity as possible in the movie, so they looked for child actors in orphans and slums.
When they’d gotten enough kids gathered, they played a “game” in which “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.”
The story outraged many, many people — after all, the idea of dangling money in front of poor children just to snatch it away doesn’t sound like the kindest thing that’s ever happened.
And when you throw in Angelina’s anecdote about the child they cast as the lead, a girl named Srey Moch, and how she cried and cried about the “game” because she imagined using the money for her grandfather’s funeral …
Well, it’s just not great.
In a statement released after the backlash began, Angelina insisted that the children were very aware that they were playing a game, and that the money used was obviously fake.
“The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting,” she said. “I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”
She said that every precaution was taken to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of the kids on set, and that all the fuss was over nothing — the story was taken out of context.
But now, Vanity Fair is backing their original story.
According to the magazine, they were contacted by Angelina’s lawyers after the story began circulating, asking them to run a statement about the casting game, both on their site and in next month’s issue.
The statement they submitted claimed that the crew “showed the children the camera and sound recording material, explaining to them that they were going to be asked to act out a part.”
“The children were not tricked as some have suggested,” the statement continued. “All of the children auditioning were made aware of the fictional aspects of the exercise.”
“We apologize for any misunderstanding.”
So that’s what Angelina’s lawyers wanted Vanity Fair to release. But what they actually released was the full transcript of that section of the interview.
And it’s pretty darn interesting.
According to the transcript, Angelina began the story by explaining that they went to “what they call a slum school” to find the lead for the movie.
“And I think,” she said, “I mean they didn’t know. We just went in and — you just go in and do some auditions with the kids. And it’s not really an audition with children.”
“We had this game where it would be — and I wasn’t there and they didn’t know what they were really doing.”
She explained that “They kind of said, ‘Oh, a camera’s coming up and we want to play a game with you.'”
“And the game for that character was ‘We’re going to put some money on the table. Think of something you need that money for.'”
Sometimes they tempted the kids with money, sometimes they did it with cookies, but then they would “catch” them stealing, and they told the kids “We’d like you to try to lie that you didn’t have it.”
At no point did she say that the money was fake, and at no point did she stress that the children were well-aware that the game wasn’t real.
Which isn’t to say that none of that happened — she also says that she wasn’t even there during all of this.
But because of this, Vanity Fair’s official statement reads that they stand by the story as it was published.
Sorry ‘bout it, Angie.