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Why The Dropout’s Amanda Seyfried Didn’t Even Try To Mirror Elizabeth Holmes’ Infamous Voice

Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout.
(Image credit: Hulu)

The upcoming Hulu series The Dropout stars Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos who is accused of scamming people and companies out of billions of dollars. One of the more bizarre aspects to Holmes’ story is the apparently affected voice she used when speaking publicly. When Seyfried accepted the role, she knew that deep, baritone voice was going to be a topic of conversation, and she decided early on to not even try to mimic the disgraced entrepreneur.

The story of Theranos — ripped straight from the headlines — is a strange and fascinating one, as the now-defunct health technology company was claimed to have the means to diagnose multiple diseases, including cancer, with just a finger prick. Elizabeth Holmes served as Theranos CEO until the ruse began to unravel in 2015. Along with the false claims about the company’s technology, it seemed aspects of Holmes herself were made up, including her voice. Amanda Seyfried told THR why she chose not to take on that aspect of Holmes’ character: 

I knew my voice was never going to be as deep as hers because I’m physically not capable of it. Besides, I promised I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time and try to completely mimic this other human being. It’d be impossible. And just not fun.

Amanda Seyfried said she knew she’d never be able to get her voice as low as Elizabeth Holmes’, and with so much more to the character, the actress didn’t want to put so much focus on mirroring that one aspect. If she tried and failed, Seyfriend said, it would distract the audience from other aspects of the story.

I was so worried that getting the voice 100 percent right would distract from the actual story, that it would become the focus.

It’s easy to imagine how quickly things could go wrong for Amanda Seyfried, if she tried to make her voice go deeper than she was comfortably able, and it seems like that might take her character into caricature territory pretty quickly. Seyfried also didn’t want the voice to become a distraction because it’s probably the least egregious of all her deceptions. In fact, Seyfried doesn’t even blame her for changing her voice, and she explained why:

If you’re trying to be taken seriously by all of these powerful men, what else do you do? We all take on traits, subconsciously most of the time, to fit in and survive. I caught myself doing some her mannerisms just the other day. You can’t help it. We’re sensitive. We’re absorbent. We’re fucking humans.

It seems like Amanda Seyfried thinks some of that voice-changing might have been subconscious from a woman trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated profession. 

How an actor chooses to portray a character who is based on a real-life person is a situation we’ve seen quite a bit recently. Inventing Anna on Netflix features Julia Garner affecting fake heiress Anna Sorokin’s distinct German/Russian accent. On Being the Ricardos, writer and director Aaron Sorkin defended the casting of Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, saying he wasn’t looking for a straight vocal impersonation.

The drama surrounding Elizabeth Holmes’ voice is certainly interesting, but it’s understandable for more than one reason why Amanda Seyfried didn’t want the focus to fall solely on that. The Dropout premieres on Hulu on Thursday, March 3. Check out these other shows on Hulu, as well as our 2022 TV Schedule for upcoming premiere dates.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.