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Shirley MacLaine's recalls past life in Atlantis

Actress and author chats with Jess Cagle about recalling her past life in Atlantis for new book ‘Above the Line’

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Shirley MacLaine is known to many as an Oscar-winning performer, but the actress is getting in touch with her former identity as an ancient resident of the lost city of Atlantis for a new book, Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure.

MacLaine is 81 years old, but she tells PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle that her memory now stretches almost two million years into the past — all thanks to the messy 2014 production of the still-unreleased film Wild Oats in Spain’s Canary Islands.

“I began to feel the difference in the energy and the difference in the kind of sensibility, [the] air of being alive [during production]. There was folklore there. Everyone there believes they are remnants of Atlantis,” the actress tells Cagle, noting that production on the film soon unraveled. “We didn’t have the money…The [instance] that stands out the most is [when producers called and said], ‘Don’t come in today. We haven’t got money to pay the cab fare.'”

MacLaine says the film’s shaky financial foundation forced her into a series of reflective thoughts focused on past life recall, which mostly came at night as she filmed scenes. Such memories inspired her to begin recording them, and that’s how Above the Line came about, as a means for MacLaine to muse on the trappings of greed that supposedly resulted in the destruction of the ancient city.

“[Atlantis] was a huge island continent, as I recall, and very advanced, built by star nations… It sank in series of deluges, and I was remembering those deluges. It didn’t all happen at once. And then I got to thinking, as I was watching CNN and various news shows, ‘What’s the difference between what is going on now and what went on then?’ Well, that was before Donald Trump.”

While her words might sound ominous, MacLaine says she chose to share memories from her past life simply to inspire other people to dig deeper into their own minds, though she had several doubts. “Am I really going to write this? Am I actually going to say I lived in several deluges of Atlantis? What will they think of me then?” the actress says she asked herself before publishing the book. “I decided to do it because that’s the power, really, of doing things from nothing. It’s so powerful and so much more creative and freeing. I wanted other people to have the experience of this Atlantean thing, because maybe they were there, too. That was my first true understanding: all time happens simultaneously, proven by Einstein and Stephen Hawking.”

Watch Shirley MacLaine dish on her past life in Atlantis, her marriage to Steve Parker, cuddling with her dogs, and what film roles are on the horizon during her full SiriusXM interview with Jess Cagle in the video above. The full interview can also be heard Friday at 1 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio, and anytime on the SiriusXM app.