What is going on with Evan Rachel Wood’s voice in Kajillionaire?

Kate Fowler September 25, 2020
What is going on with Evan Rachel Wood’s voice in Kajillionaire?
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Evan Rachel Wood’s voice in Kajillionaire might leave some fans confused when they finally hear it in the cinema on 25 September. Is that her real voice? Hint: it’s much deeper than in her other movies.

Kajillionaire tells the story of a con-artist family scamming their way through life. Wood’s character, Old Dolio, has a voice slightly deeper than any of her previous roles. Well, by slightly we mean very – as in a few octaves deeper.

What’s up with Evan Rachel Wood’s voice in Kajillionaire?

Surprisingly, Evan Rachel Wood’s Kajillionaire voice is her real voice – no special FX here! In a HuffPost interview in July, director Miranda July said during early rehearsals Wood suddenly dropped her voice, telling her: “This is my original voice. I used to get vocal nodes, so I worked with a vocal coach to train my voice up. So now I speak with this voice that everyone knows me as, but if you want me to use this voice…”

According to Variety, Wood had forced her voice higher to be able to continue singing as her natural low tone was beginning to cause nodules on her vocal cords.

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

She said: “I had to get over this idea that the higher my voice was, the less people were going to take me seriously or think I was smart.” 

Why did they keep Evan Rachel Wood’s voice so deep?

Wood’s voice in Kajillionaire is yet another thing about her character that sets her apart, alongside her cult-like long hair and baggy clothing. In fact, she barely even speaks in the film, while Variety describes her character as a “neglected, barely verbal person”.

Although the voice might be the most noticeable thing about Old Dolio, that wasn’t the intention. In her Variety interview, Wood explains there was an emphasis on using eye movements and sounds to communicate instead.

She said: “And then we’d do it again and (July) would say, ‘You’re actually not allowed to use words this time; you have to communicate through movements or sound or your eyes.’ Or ‘Ok, do this one, but do it like you’re a wild animal, like you’re a creature’.”

It’s no mystery where Old Dolio’s animal-like characteristics come from. In Kajillionaire, Wood’s character is an outcast in society – and that’s an understatement.

With parents who raised her with no nurturing, simply to aid their cons, she rarely interacts with people her own age and is somewhat feral.

Raised on the cusp of society, we get an insight into the parenting techniques when the father proudly declares Old Dolio learned to write by forging signatures. Where’s Jo Frost when you need her?!

The relationship between Old Dolio’s voice and her sexuality

Although this might be a less obvious reason for the voicing choices in Kajillionaire, July explained the voice relates to Old Dolio’s exploration of her sexuality in the film.

July told HuffPost: “Even if it had just been a choice of mine, I kind of think voice is one of those very fluid gender identifiers that’s ours to use as we like.

“I have friends who, whether because of hormones or because their identity was on a journey, their voice changed, so I think it’s an interesting, subtler queer indicator.”

Throughout the film, Old Dolio begins to figure out her own sexuality with the help of a blossoming romance with Melanie, played by Gina Rodriguez, a stranger her family recruits in their scams.

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Kate is a fashion journalism graduate from London College of Fashion with an untouchable knowledge of pop culture. Her eye for the strange corners of the internet have resulted to huge-hitting articles while she has also written features for Vice. The solar system might make your world go round, but writing about the internet, music and celebrities has Kate in orbit.