'The Dropout': Amanda Seyfried Breaks Down Her Awkward Dancing as Elizabeth Holmes (Exclusive)

Creator and showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether also explains why the dancing is so pivotal to the Hulu series.

There’s nothing like the feeling of dancing when nobody’s watching. And that’s something convicted Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes loved to do, which is why it's been incorporated into The Dropout, Hulu’s true-crime series chronicling the explosive realization that her once groundbreaking biotech startup was built on lies and fraudulent data

While speaking to ET by phone and at the 92Y for their recent Recanati-Kaplan Talks event, Amanda Seyfried and showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether broke down all of Holmes’ awkward dancing and the series’ incredible music cues, from Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” to “Y Control” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. 

“The music ended up becoming such a big part of the show and it started with the anecdote in the podcast about Elizabeth Holmes dancing in her car alone,” Meriwether says, referring to the ABC News investigative series hosted by Rebecca Jarvis which The Dropout is adapted from. “That really stuck out to me because I was just really trying to imagine what Elizabeth Holmes is like when nobody’s watching her.”

From the very first episode, Holmes is seen dancing by herself at various points throughout the story, whether she’s alone in her room, in the car between investor meetings or lost in her head after a long job. “It became, for me, a way to show the character grappling with emotions… because I think she, the character in the show, is not great at getting her emotions out. And so dancing just made sense in that way,” Meriwether says, adding later, “And I sort of took that and I just ran with it.”  


Considering how awkward it is to watch, it just adds to Seyfried’s stunning portrayal of Holmes, which covers everything from her deep baritone to her Steve Jobs-like attire to her discomfort in certain social situations. 

“It wasn’t choreographed, that’s for sure,” Seyfried says of most of those moments scattered throughout the series. Outside of working with a choreographer “to find the right moves” for the more elaborate, extended dance scene in episode 2, when Holmes is caught in her office breaking it down to Missy Elliott’s “We Run This,” the actress says the rest was all “spontaneous.”

It’s all about “finding the wrong move or finding that weird, awkward rhythm that you want to hide. Like, really getting in touch with that,” Seyfried continues. “That awkwardness is kind of what brings us all together as audience members. We all have awkward tendencies and moments. And I’m just like, ‘Bring it out. I want to see more of that.’” 

The freedom of dancing alone, “that’s the feeling that we want all the time,” Meriwether adds.  

Adding to those scenes are the music cues secured by music supervisor Maggie Phillips. When Holmes is dancing alone in her room, it is to Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why).” While she’s amping herself up in between investor meetings, she’s rocking out to “We Run This.” Later, when she’s wearing a mask of her own face and dancing in her apartment with Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews), it’s to “Jealous” by Nick Jonas. And then there’s that other awkward moment with Balwani, when Holmes is lip syncing to Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love.”

Not only that, but there are other great needle drops, from Katy Perry’s “Firework” to “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse and LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum.” 

“With the music, it was just important to be able to transport the audience to that moment in time really quickly because the show does cover a lot of years,” Meriwether says, explaining that since it’s the recent past, it was all about choosing songs that would “take you back immediately to 2009 versus 2015. It’s going to be that one song that you recognize, you remember but it hasn’t been played so much that you’re sick of it.” 

The showrunner adds, “So, I think the songs help you locate yourself in time. And I ended up having a lot of fun with that part of the series.” 

New episodes of The Dropout debut Thursdays on Hulu. 

Reporting by Rachel Smith and Stacy Lambe



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