Voiceover Videos of Elizabeth Holmes: Real vs. Fake vs. “The Dropout”

Since The Dropout landed on Hulu, audiences had many questions about the voice of Elizabeth Holmes — particularly when it comes to actress Amanda Seyfried’s impression of the Theranos founder.

The Dropout, which stars Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, tells the story of the former Theranos CEO’s meteoric rise – and equally intense decline – after she was accused of cheating medical professionals and corporations out of millions. With Theranos, Holmes possessed revolutionary technology that was able to diagnose a range of diseases, including cancer, with just a stab of blood. But that technology was an empty promise — and apparently that wasn’t the only thing fake about this company. There were things about Holmes herself that were completely made up, including of course her infamous voice.

Holmes was known for her surprisingly deep voice in interviews, panels and discussions. But occasionally, the medical entrepreneur would make a mistake and revert to her natural speaking voice, which happened to be higher pitched. These rare gaffes caused people in her circle and the media to question her authenticity—especially when the Theranos intrigue began to be unraveled in the 2010s. For Seyfried, who plays Holmes in the new Hulu series The Dropout, tapping into Holmes’ voice was an important part of her story; but she also knew there were obvious limitations when it came to imitating it yourself.

“I knew my voice would never be as deep as hers because I’m not physically able to,” she said The Hollywood Reporter in March 2022. “I also promised that I will not make it difficult for myself and try to emulate this other human completely. It would be impossible. And it’s just not fun.” She added, “I was so concerned that the 100 percent correct voice acting would detract from the actual story, that it would become the focal point.”

Elizabeth Holmes trial

Image: AP Photo/Nic Coury.

Still, Seyfried says she did her best to capture “the weirdness” of Holmes’ voice — though she didn’t quite get it. “The shape of my mouth isn’t the same as hers, but I can make sounds that are a little or pretty close to what she was doing,” Seyfried told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in March 2022, per Variety. “And that’s my job as an actor, impersonation and stuff like that. But in terms of depth, I had to work really hard to get there because I speak at such a higher level than she naturally does. Although she kept deepening her voice, as we all understand it’s for the sake of power to make a difference, I still couldn’t quite get there.

While Seyfriend doesn’t think she “100% nailed it” for Hulu’s series about the disgraced Theranos founder, she is confident that she did “what she had to do to get audiences to come with us.” ‘ to join the journey. “And that was really my only concern,” she continued. “So I’m a little worried about what people are going to say about the voice. But at the end of the day, I’m an actor and I’m not her, and I’ve done my best to try and capture the oddity in it.”

Of course, you have to listen to Elizabeth Holmes’ voice for comparison. For additional details and videos about the voice of Elizabeth Holmes, just keep reading below.

Why did Elizabeth Holmes change her voice?

For Holmes, using a deep voice was a way to present himself as a strong woman in a space often occupied by men. Research has shown that women who speak in deeper voices are usually taken more seriously and seen as more competent and trustworthy overall – so it’s not surprising that someone like Holmes could hide their true voice to make connections in the medical industry.

According to family members speaking to TMZ in 2019, Holmes’ voice was is not fake. Apparently most of the people in the Holmes family, including her grandmother, had deep voices. However, people have long speculated that Holmes was stepping things up for the cameras and social situations — and sometimes there seemed to be an occasional slip. For example, in a 2005 interview with NPR, Holmes’ voice goes through some noticeable changes. You can hear the audio at the 11 minute mark in this WNYC clip, or watch the video below for examples.

While many have criticized Holmes’ voice as another inauthentic element of their larger Theranos plan, Amanda Seyfried – who plays the company’s founder on Hulu’s The Dropout—does not blame Holmes for the decision. “If you’re trying to be taken seriously by all these powerful men, what else are you doing? We all adopt traits, mostly unconsciously, in order to adapt and survive,” she said The Hollywood Reporter in March 2022. “I caught myself doing it [of] their mannerisms only recently. You can not help it. We are sensitive. We are absorbent. We are damned people.”

The Dropout can be streamed on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.


Image: Courtesy of Knopf.

For more on Elizabeth Holmes, see Wall Street Journal reporter John Careyrou’s 2018 book. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The book — which The New York Times called “terrifying” and said it “reads like a thriller” — tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes, a health-tech entrepreneur thought to be Steve Jobs, and her company, Theranos, a startup that grew to more than $9 billion in funding and promised to revolutionize the medical industry through single-drop blood testing. The national bestseller follows Holmes as she allegedly defrauded investors and put patients at risk through misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments with her flawed technology. The book also examines how Holmes and her partner Sunny Balwani worked to silence anyone who voiced their criticism – including Theranos’ own employees.

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Brian Ashcraft

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