Miranda July Reveals How a Dream About Giving Birth to Kittens Influenced ‘Kajillionaire’

     September 25, 2020

This might be an all-time favorite behind-the-scenes story right here. Nine years after the release of The Future, Miranda July is back with a brand new feature film. Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood as Old Dolio, the daughter of two con-artists (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) who winds up questioning their way of living when they let a complete stranger, Gina Rodriguez’s Melanie, join them for a heist.

Kajillionaire does reveal how Wood’s character came to be called Old Dolio in the film, but with a name as unique as that, I had to ask July what inspired that choice when she was first writing the script, and her answer didn’t disappoint. Here’s the story:

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Image via Focus Features

“My friend texted me that she had had a dream that I had given birth to ten kittens and she had all the names written out in the text and one of the names was Old Dolio. And I remember being like, ‘Can’t forget that. I’m gonna use that for something.’ Another name that I didn’t use was marijuana.”

During our chat, July also spoke extensively about her process as a director and how she approached working with her four leads, noting that “each of those four people works very differently.” Which two have the most polar opposite process on set? Here’s what July said:

“On the one end, Evan, I kind of felt like I didn’t even have to verbalize what I needed her to do. As long as I could feel it in my body and think it, I could sort of just give her a look and a very inarticulate mumble. And that wouldn’t fly at all for, say, a Debra Winger. Debra Winger wanted to sit down and have a conversation about why and maybe we should e-mail about it or meet about it. She’s really gonna do her homework.”

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Image via Sundance

If you’d like to hear more about July’s experience working with her Kajillionaire cast, how she took a role in Madeline’s Madeline mainly so she could observe Josephine Decker work and more, you can check out our full conversation at the top of this article!

Kajillionaire hits select theaters on September 25th.

Miranda July:

  • It’s been a little while since July’s last film; of everything she worked on in between The Future and Kajillionaire, what influenced her work as a filmmaker most?
  • The kitten dream that inspired the name Old Dolio.
  • How much backstory work did July do for the Dyne family?
  • Her four leads all work very differently; who of the two have the most drastically different processes?
  • What’s the movie magic behind the pink foam?
  • July signed on for Madeline’s Madeline so that she could observe director Josephine Decker work.
  • How July wound up receiving a special thanks in If Beale Street Could Talk.

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