Stranger than fiction. The Dropout follows the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos, and the details of the scandal are so wild that they were practically made for TV.
Amanda Seyfried stars as Holmes in the Hulu miniseries, which premiered on Thursday, March 3. In anticipation of the role, the actress, 36, did her research, telling Harper’s Bazaar in February that she “prepared like a motherf–ker.”
“The first choice you have to make is no judgments when you play somebody,” the Mean Girls star elaborated. “I can’t diagnose anybody. And I also think we’re all so nuanced. We’re built on so many different experiences, from childhood to where we are now. And I got to study. There’s a lot of information out there, and I was privy to all of it.”
The Dropout is not the first pop culture deep dive into Holmes’ story. She was already the subject of a book titled Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, a podcast called “The Dropout” and HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. So, Seyfried used the existing material to her advantage in addition to interviews conducted by the series’ creator, Elizabeth Meriwether.
“We got information,” the Mamma Mia! actress said. “I Zoomed some people. I studied the s–t out of the deposition tapes because it’s about capturing an essence.”
Seyfried’s goal was to make it hard for viewers to “uncover the Amanda” in her portrayal. “In this, I hope that I disappear,” she explained. “I did my best to soak it in, and when it was time to play her, I was like, ‘Oh, God, what am I doing? Am I doing it right?’ But then, you know, you get used to it. It’s muscle memory, right?”
Despite the Mank star’s attempts to properly impersonate Holmes, 38, she did not let perfectionism ruin her experience.
“I knew my voice was never going to be as deep as hers because I’m physically not capable of it,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in February. “Besides, I promised I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time and try to completely mimic this other human being. It’d be impossible. And just not fun.”
Holmes herself was criticized for seemingly adopting a persona that was not real, which adds another layer of intrigue to The Dropout. “I’m acting as Elizabeth Holmes acting,” Seyfried told Vanity Fair in February.
Scroll through the gallery below to learn more about Holmes, Theranos and the scandal that brought them both down.