Latest News

How Amanda Seyfried Prepared To Play ‘Psychopath’ Elizabeth Holmes

"I know it sounds ridiculous, but the morning feed is my alone time away from the kids."

The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her failed medical tech company Theranos gripped millions, including Amanda Seyfried, who portrays her in the series The Dropout.

In a cover story for the April issue of marie claire Australia, Seyfried reveals how she found humanity in Holmes and nailed her version of the infamous “fake voice”.

(Credit: Photography: Bjorn Iooss)

“It was a process getting that deeper voice,” Seyfried admits. “I would film videos of myself as I practised and the first video I have is of me feeding the animals in the summer. I’m wearing a tee and shorts and I set up my camera at the back of the tractor and did a TED talk about selling hay to the horses. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the morning feed is my alone time away from the kids, so I really have to utilise it.”

The story of Holmes and her failed medical corporation Theranos was destined to get the Hollywood treatment after the popularity of the 2019 podcast (also named The Dropout), and the fact that every major media outlet covered the fascinating tale of the young CEO’s unwavering ambition that resulted in very dangerous consequences.

Seyfried gives one of her best performances playing the real-life Stanford University dropout, who built a breakthrough medical tech company with machines that falsely claimed to be able to run fast, affordable, reliable tests from just a few drops of blood.

As CEO of Theranos, Holmes managed to convince venture capitalists and private investors to invest more than $US900 million, and in 2013 the company partnered with well-known pharmacy chain Walgreens in the United States.

The Drop Out

When talking about Holmes, Seyfried’s carefree, cheerful chatter becomes more measured. The actor chooses her words carefully when she considers how she feels after embodying the controversial figure.

“It’s definitely a different process when you’re playing somebody who has made some choices that, you know, you don’t agree with,” she shares. “I mean, that’s putting it very lightly, but my job as an actor is to really connect and relate to and care about the character I’m playing, regardless of my personal disconnect with them.”

Luckily for Seyfried, she has a sympathetic sounding board with Sadoski. “It does make the job more interesting,” she says. “A lot of actors – like my husband – look for characters like [Holmes] because we get to try to find humanity in every dirty thing. I’m not going to condone anything but I loved getting to know her – as much as you can get to know a person like that. [I loved putting] myself in her shoes and helping audiences consider what they would have done in that situation. I would have done things differently but the end of the day you have to play it like it was.”

For the full cover story, pick up the April issue of marie claire Australia, on sale Thursday March 17.

Related stories