Vanity Fair is standing by their cover story after Angelina Jolie claimed portions of it were "false and upsetting."
Jolie took major issue with the profile in the magazine's September issue, specifically the details about a game the casting directors for her movie "First They Killed My Father" played with the poor children in Cambodia in search of an actor for their upcoming film.
"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."
The excerpt immediately garnered backlash from shocked readers on social media.
Vanity Fair now says they were contacted by Jolie's lawyer after the story was published, asking them to run a statement that said, "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."
The magazine did not edit the story, but instead released a transcript of writer Evgenia Peretz's conversation with her.
"In response to these requests, V.F. reviewed the transcript and audiotape of Peretz’s interview with Jolie for the story. Peretz had recorded it on two devices. A transcript of the relevant section is reproduced below," the magazine said.
The conversation reads:
AJ: But it was very hard to find a little Loung. And so it was what they call a slum school. I don’t think that’s a very nice word for it, but a school for kids in very poor areas.
And I think, 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. 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 that you need that money for.” Sometimes it was money, sometimes it was a cookie. [Laughter] “And then take it.” And then we would catch them. “We’re going to catch you, and we’d like you to try to lie that you didn’t have it.”
So it was very interesting seeing the kids and how they would—some were very conscious of the camera. They were actually—there are so many talented kids in this country. But Srey Moch was the only child that stared at that money for a very, very long time before she picked it up, and then bravely, brazenly lying, like was trying to hide, but then she also kind of—
EP: Wait. This is the girl, Loung.
AJ: 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.
They added a response reading, "After reviewing the audiotape, V.F. stands by Peretz’s story as published."
Jolie's initial response to The Huffington Post, said "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."