Of all the people who worked on HBO’s new documentary, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, only one met with its subject, Elizabeth Holmes -- producer Jessie Deeter.
ET Live’s Lauren Zima spoke with Deeter about sitting down with the now-infamous founder of Theranos and how, although it wasn't documented, it played a key role in the film.
“I did have a long meeting with her once to try and get her to do a long interview with us and she told me she was considering doing her own documentary,” Deeter said.
Holmes set out to create a device which people could have in their home to test their blood for all types of illnesses. However, investigative journalists discovered that she was allegedly falsifying data and using commercial devices to do so. But, when Deeter met with her, it was not a legal matter yet, merely bad press.
“When I spoke with her in the fall of 2017, the SEC hadn’t yet come out with all of those multitudes of allegations against her,” Deeter explained. “So our team didn’t know about that. But she knew about that. She acted as if she was going to be moving forward. But we did have John Carreyrou’s excellent Wall Street Journal reporting, right?”
“And so I said, ‘You know, Elizabeth, you’re being accused of fraud.’ And she got very angry with that word and said there was no fraud and she told me that she felt that she had been treated differently [than men] in Silicon Valley because she was a woman," Deeter recalled. "She said, ‘You know, men are allowed to fail and men are allowed to make mistakes in this business and because I’m a woman I was not.”
The acclaimed producer, who also helped create documentaries like Who Killed the Electric Car? and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, said that despite the ugly PR, Holmes remained more than optimistic about her future during their five-hour meeting.
“And Elizabeth told me flat out that if we were so lucky, we would be chronicling her phoenix-like rise back to power,” Deeter explained. “She thought she was going to be doing the miniLab [formerly the Edison, the device at the heart of Theranos], which is effectively the same thing they’ve been doing, kind of rebranding. But she got another $100 million loan as we were making this film. So all our interviews had signed NDAs and the people who spoke with us were very brave to do so.”
Deeter also discussed Holmes’ famous charisma and charm, which helped her allegedly convince her employees of things that were ultimately revealed to be lies, including test results.
“During the course of those five hours, I too was left questioning myself,” she shared. “I think it was also different with me because she wasn’t trying to sell me on the products per se… It felt as if, in our time, more as if she was interviewing me to possibly be given the gift of telling her story.”
“And so she wanted to know more about our team. She wanted to know more about who we’d spoken with,” she continued. “And, of course, I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you who we've talked to because you don’t have the greatest history in terms of litigation, right?' And she said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ She lied to me quite a bit.”
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is currently available to watch on HBO.