Jennifer Lawrence Was ‘Born to Play’ Elizabeth Holmes in the Theranos Movie, Says Director Adam McKay

Director, producer, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Adam McKay is a busy man these days. His latest film, Don’t Look Up, a dark comedy featuring fellow Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, has become a Netflix sensation. Now the word is out: He and Lawrence are teaming up again. His new film, Bad Blood, will feature Lawrence as disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes whose medical technology startup, Theranos, proved too good to be true. Here’s what he said about working with Lawrence and how she’s preparing for the role of Holmes.

Adam McKay confirmed that Jennifer Lawrence will recreate Elizabeth Holmes’ distinctive voice

Jennifer Lawrence, who will portray Elizabeth Holmes in 'Bad Blood,' at a premiere in a gold dress.
Jennifer Lawrence, at the premiere of Adam McKay’s ‘Don’t Look Up,’ will play Elizabeth Holmes in the Theranos biopic. | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Undoubtedly, Lawrence bears a striking resemblance to Holmes. But there’s more to playing a real person than just looking like them. In January 2022, McKay told Insider that Lawrence is excited to take on the role of Holmes, even practicing to capture Holmes’ distinct speaking voice. 

McKay still hadn’t heard Lawrence’s impersonation of Holmes when he gave the interview. “You know, I haven’t made her do it for me yet,” he admitted. “She said she’s been working on it.” McKay said he wasn’t “going to bug” the private star due to her pregnancy. “But she’s born to play that role,” he added. “With the voice, she said she’s feeling it. She’s excited,” McKay finished. 

What we know about ‘Bad Blood’ so far

The film’s script is based on John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist first reported on the Theranos scandal. In it, he details the rise and fall of Holmes, who, as an ambitious 19-year-old, claimed to have developed a revolutionary blood-testing technology. Enthralled investors flocked to bankroll her company, making her the youngest and richest female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

When it later became clear her claims were false, her attempts to hide the truth led to fraud charges. According to the Department of Justice, Holmes currently awaits sentencing after being convicted of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Apple Studios signed on to produce the film version in association with Legendary Pictures. Other producers include Lawrence, who owns the production company Excellent Cadaver, with her friend, Justine Polsky. McKay is also a producer via his company Gary Sanchez Productions, which he founded with former friend Will Ferrell.

 Lawrence and McKay go way back

Years ago, Lawrence was an ambitious 19-year-old herself when she decided to seek out McKay. According to Vanity Fair, she was “obsessed” with his comedies and wanted to work with him. “I got this call that the wonderful actress from Winter’s Bone wanted to meet me,” McKay recalled. “And she came in and just for an hour we talked about Step Brothers. And I’m like, ‘I like her. We’re idiots too.'”

McKay explained what led to Lawrence’s casting in Don’t Look Up. She plays Ph.D. candidate Kate Dibiasky who discovers a giant comet on a fatal collision course with Earth. “No one has more beautiful anger than Jen,” said McKay. “When she unleashes, it is a sight to behold.” He continued, “I wanted to cut loose with a strong, funny truth-teller woman and that’s Jen Lawrence. I mean, that character poured out of me. I would just picture Jen and you knew exactly what she would say.”  

The film, with a star-studded cast including Ariana Grande and Meryl Streep, follows Dibiasky and astronomer Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). They try to warn a government and media that refuse to take them seriously about the comet. 

McKay and columnist David Sirota wrote the story out of frustration with how the media covered climate change. “And Sirota offhandedly just said, yeah, it’s like a giant comet’s about to hit Earth, and no one cares,” McKay told NPR. “And I just – immediately, I was like, that’s it. That’s the idea.”

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