A couple of months after the first images arrived of Amanda Seyfried as Theranos founder and convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, we now have a trailer by which to judge The Voice. If you’ll recall, Holmes speaks—spoke? I can’t find a recent soundbite from her—in an affected baritone voice that screams “fake” as soon as you hear it. After seeing the still photos of Seyfried done up as Holmes, I was very curious about The Voice, and, well, Seyfried is nailing The Voice.
It's not that she sounds 100% like Elizabeth Holmes. She doesn’t. But it’s the way Seyfried’s voice deepens at different points in the story, it’s the way we actually see Holmes practicing The Voice to get the pitch just right—The Dropout isn’t pulling punches, they’re flat out calling The Voice fake (which is obvious, but Holmes never admitted it). I love the progression from Stanford-era Holmes speaking normally, sounding like Amanda Seyfried using her natural voice. There’s maybe a little bit of an inflection, a roundness of vowels to Seyfried’s voice, a put-on West Coast accent, if you will. But otherwise, she sounds normal. Then, in the scene where she quotes Yoda at her professor, played by Laurie Metcalf, her voice is a little lower, not deep, exactly, but that inflection is more noticeable. It gets a little deeper still in the clip where she talks about their series B funding, and then we flat-out see her faking The Voice in the mirror.
It'll be interesting to contrast The Dropout with Inventing Anna, because what Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey have in common, besides convictions, is how they manipulated their images to charm, placate, and influence men in their sphere. The question I have for both women, even after in-depth exposés and well-documented public trials, is how much of their fraud was intentional, and how much was a byproduct of a “fake it till you make it” mentality? I get why Elizabeth Holmes adopted The Voice. She overshot the mark, but she wanted to be taken seriously at a young age by men much older than her—men inclined to write her off—so she started talking in a deep voice, because all the research says people take women with deeper voices more seriously than women with higher voices. Fine. But did she REALLY think her blood testing machine would work? Or was it always just a house of cards? This trailer highlights her deficient scientific knowledge, but at what point is ignorance wishful thinking and at what point is it willful? I’ve never been able to satisfactorily answer that for myself in either case, and I don’t think fictionalized dramas will help, but it’s the thing I can’t stop thinking about.