‘The Dropout’: Amanda Seyfried Wasn’t the First Choice to Play Elizabeth Holmes

Hulu limited TV series The Dropout chronicles the rise and fall of polarizing biotechnology entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes. Notable actor Amanda Seyfried will star as the main character in the eight-episode show, but she wasn’t the first choice to portray the Stanford dropout. Instead, a popular Saturday Night Live cast member initially signed on to star in and executive produces the series.

Amanda Seyfried smiling at 'The Dropout' premiere
‘The Dropout’ star, Amanda Seyfried | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Kate McKinnon was initially selected to portray Elizabeth Holmes in ‘The Dropout’ and serve as executive producer

Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live actor Kate McKinnon reportedly opted out of portraying a chemical engineering prodigy who recently got indicted on several wire fraud charges, Elizabeth Holmes.

In April 2019, when Hulu first ordered The Dropout, titled after the Rebecca Jarvis-hosted podcast that dives into Holmes and her failed health care technology startup, Theranos, sources attached McKinnon’s name to the limited series as an executive producer and the star.

It’s unknown why the celebrated actor chose to drop out of the series, but the show decided to move forward and cast someone else as the polarizing entrepreneur.

It eventually selected Amanda Seyfried of Mean Girls (2004) and Mank (2020) fame to portray Holmes.

McKinnon signed on for ‘Joe vs. Carole’

While the actor hasn’t revealed why she dropped out of the Hulu series, it’s suspected she chose to portray Carole Baskin in Peacock’s limited series, Joe vs. Carole, instead.

Also based on a podcast, specifically Over My Dead Body Season 2 hosted by Robert Moor, that covered the compelling case of a zookeeper, Joe Exotica, who got convinced for the attempted murder-for-hire of his archnemesis, Carole Baskin. The new series will also focus on Baskin’s personal life.

Netflix released a documentary about the rivalry, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (2020), which became extremely successful, many believe, due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

As Exotica has attempted to use the fame to get his case re-examined, Baskin has used hers to appear on reality dating shows, including Dancing With the Stars. McKinnon will serve as executive producer and star in Joe vs. Carole alongside John Cameron Mitchell (Joe Exotica), Kyle MacLachlan (Howard Baskin), Dean Winters (Jeff Lowe), William Fichtner (Rick Kirkham), and Nat Wolff (Travis Maldonado).

Amanda Seyfried will portray Elizabeth Holmes in ‘The Dropout’

Set to premiere on March 3, Seyfried will star as Stanford dropout Holmes who founded a health technology company she claimed could test blood for hundreds of diseases using only a finger prick.

She successfully raised millions of dollars for the company, landing on Forbes’ list in 2015 for the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire due to its valuation of Theranos as worth $9 billion.


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However, her downfall began when journalists began doubting the technology’s capabilities, eventually resulting in an indictment for wire fraud. The Dropout podcast features six episodes, but the miniseries will include eight, with the first three dropping on March 3 and the finale on April 7.

The show also features Naveen Andrews (Sunny Balwani), William H. Macy (Richard Fuisz), Hart Bochner (Larry Ellison), Laurie Metcalf (Phyllis Gardner), James Hiroyuki Liao (Edmond Ku), and Elizabeth Marvel (Noel Holmes).