"The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting".
Angelina Jolie has denied that Cambodian children were exploited on the set of her latest film, amid accusations that they were forced to stage a mock battle for money.
The actress has directed First They Killed My Father, a Netflix film about the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in 1970s Cambodia.
But a recent Vanity Fair interview highlighted the unorthodox process to cast child actors in the film – with impoverished orphans being forced to “snatch” money away in a bid to bag a role.
Jolie told the magazine: “Srey Moch [the child who eventually won the role] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time.
“When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion… 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.”
Now, Jolie has responded directly to the accusations – labelling them “false and upsetting”.
“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”, the UN Ambassador actress said in a statement.
“The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war and to help fight to protect them. 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.
“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”.
The film is set to be released on Netflix later this year.