Attention fans of The Dropout, Us Weekly has rounded up everything you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani’s real-life relationship as Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews’ portrayal receives critical acclaim.
Holmes met Balwani, who is 19 years older than the Theranos founder, when she was in China for Stanford’s Mandarin program in 2002 — the same year he filed for divorce from then-wife Keiko Fujimoto. While the pair struck up an unlikely friendship, they reportedly didn’t begin their romance until 2004.
Holmes dropped out of college that year to pursue a product that could allegedly run medical tests using only a small amount of blood obtained from a finger prick. While Balwani wasn’t officially part of the company until 2009, John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup claimed he was advising her as he pursued his own business opportunities. They reportedly didn’t tell investors about their romance.
“[It was] very clear to me that they were running this thing as a partnership, and that Sunny was kind of the enforcer and Holmes’ older boyfriend,” the book stated, claiming one of his sources “painted the portrait of this fraud being run by a couple.”
In her deposition, which was released in 2019, Holmes said: ”Once we started working together it was a very intense relationship and that romantic piece that was there at the very beginning died. I don’t think it happened in one moment, but it was very clear we were colleagues.”
Not long after the twosome called it quits, Holmes and Balwani were indicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. She subsequently accused him of a “decade-long campaign of psychological abuse,” which his lawyer denied. Holmes was found guilty of four counts of defrauding investors and will be sentenced in 2022.
After the end of her romance with Balwani, Holmes, who faces 20 years behind bars, went on to marry Billy Evans — the heir to the Evans Hotel Group in California — in 2019 and welcomed a son.
Seyfried, for her part, opened up about portraying the former couple during an interview with Vanity Fair, telling the outlet that their messages were “juicy AF” and “incredibly informative.”
“[The texts] really illustrated the dynamic between Sunny and Elizabeth so beautifully,” she explained. “They were—there’s no nonjudgmental way to describe it—they were just so weird. And we were able to put these [conversations] in the script. The only weird thing about it was that I was speaking things that were texted, like: ‘We will transcend!’ Some of it was really beautiful and heartbreaking, and some of it was just wacky.… And then I’m speaking private dialogue meant for the man she was romantic with and defrauding people with, and it’s all so Twilight Zone-y, right?”
The Dropout releases new episodes on Hulu Thursdays. Scroll through for a timeline for Holmes and Balwani’s real-life timeline: