‘The Dropout’: Amanda Seyfried Weighs in on the Fascination With Elizabeth Holmes

The Dropout premiered on Hulu on March 3, bringing attention to Elizabeth Holmes and the fraud she committed as CEO of Theranos once again. Holmes’ case was already covered in a podcast called The Dropout, and the entrepreneur went through a publicized trial that ended in conviction this January. Still, people are tuning in for the fictionalized account of her story. And The Dropout star Amanda Seyfried understands why they’re so fascinated by her.

‘The Dropout’ recounts the story of Elizabeth Holmes

Amanda Seyfried in 'The Dropout' Episode 6 on Hulu. She's sitting at a table and leaning forward.
Amanda Seyfried in ‘The Dropout’ | Michael Desmond/Hulu

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The Dropout, named after Rebecca Jarvis’ hit podcast about Elizabeth Holmes, dives into the entrepreneur’s story on the small screen. The first three installments hit Hulu on March 3, and they chronicle the origin of Theranos. They highlight Elizabeth’s early intentions, as well as the company’s humble beginnings.

As the show continues, viewers witness the series of decisions that led Elizabeth to her conviction in January 2022. Her choices grow more and more dubious as she becomes desperate to prove her idea can work. And it’s clear her relationship with Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews) will complicate things further — especially since he took on the role of COO at the end of episode 3.

Watching Elizabeth fall down this rabbit hole in The Dropout is a mesmerizing experience. There are several reasons that’s the case. And The Dropout star Amanda Seyfried pinpointed one of them, making an astute connection between viewers and Elizabeth’s acolytes.

Amanda Seyfried on why people are fascinated by Elizabeth Holmes

So, why are people so fascinated by Elizabeth Holmes anyway? After the success of true-crime releases like Inventing Anna and Fyre Fraud, it’s no secret viewers enjoy watching scam stories based on real life.

However, Amanda Seyfried has another theory about why people are watching The Dropout. During an appearance on Good Morning America, the actor connected audience interest to the interest of those who knew and followed Elizabeth. Seyfried notes that her character’s passion and good intentions reel people in.

“She had a brilliant idea, and she believed in it,” Seyfried said. “Her intentions, for all intents and purposes, seemed really pure, and she got a lot of people behind her and she was so charismatic and just passionate. And how can you not want to believe in something that could change the world — health care — as we know it?”

Seyfried makes a good point. Of course, it doesn’t absolve Elizabeth of her crimes. But those aspects of her story make her an interesting figure to follow. Hulu’s deep dive promises to demonstrate how she went from genuine intentions to where she is today. And that nuanced approach makes the show more compelling. How did Seyfried approach it?

How Amanda Seyfried captured ‘The Dropout’s lead

The Dropout star Amanda Seyfried does an impressive job of delivering a nuanced take on Elizabeth Holmes. But although she listened to the podcast about Theranos’ CEO, that wasn’t enough to get into Elizabeth’s head completely.

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Seyfried marveled at what a mystery Elizabeth is — despite becoming such a public figure.

“I watched and listened to all of it, but I learned nothing about her,” Seyfried admitted. “It’s crazy that she can still be such an enigma with all the information surrounding her.”

Fortunately, working closely with The Dropout creators and immersing herself in accounts about Elizabeth helped Seyfried understand her better. And it seems the actor came to empathize with her on-screen counterpart, even though she agrees she should face justice.

“It’s just a bummer,” Seyfried told THR. “She made bad choices, and she’s got to be held accountable. But it’s nuanced, like everything and everybody.”

That perspective makes The Dropout a compelling depiction of the Theranos scandal. New episodes of The Dropout debut every Thursday on Hulu.

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