Vanity Fair is standing behind its account of the casting process for Angelina Jolie’s Cambodia-set drama First They Killed My Father after she claimed the magazine’s September cover story mischaracterized the auditions.
After reviewing the audio tape of contributing editor Evgenia Peretz’s interview with Jolie, “V.F. stands by Peretz’s story as published,” the magazine said Thursday.
Jolie, who directed and co-wrote the film based on based on Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir about surviving the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, came under criticism after Peretz depicted the casting search in fraught terms. According to the V.F. story, Jolie’s team “looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship.”
Pax Thien Jolie Pitt/Netflix
Peretz wrote that to find their young lead, the casting directors set up a game “rather disturbing in its realism,” in which they placed money in front of children, asked them to think of something they needed the money for, and then snatched it away. The children were also asked to pretend they had been caught and had to come up with a lie.
In a statement issued over the weekend, Jolie said she was “upset” about the magazine’s portrayal of the auditions and stressed that “every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort, and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present.”
Vanity Fair said Thursday that Jolie’s lawyer contacted the magazine this week asking for a prominent correction. The lawyer also asked that V.F. run a statement that said in part, “The casting 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. … All of the children auditioning were made aware of the fictional aspect of the exercise and were tended to at all times by relatives or guardians from NGOs. … We apologize for any misunderstanding.”
In addition to standing by the story, Vanity Fair published a transcript of the relevant portion of Peretz’s interview with Jolie. Read the magazine’s full response on the Vanity Fair website.
Representatives for Jolie did not immediately respond to request for comment.