the dropout

It’s Not Easy to Talk Like Elizabeth Holmes

Photo: Beth Dubber/ HULU

Ever since Elizabeth Holmes was accused of defrauding investors with faulty science, much attention has been devoted to her signature quirks: the black turtlenecks, the fact that she doesn’t blink, and most famously, her voice. There’s been speculation about whether her deep baritone is her real speaking voice or another part of her elaborate act to convince people she knew what she was talking about. Former employees claimed that Holmes would occasionally slip into a more natural-sounding, higher voice, especially when she was drunk. Holmes has never addressed these claims, but her family told TMZ that Holmes has a naturally deep voice that sometimes gets higher “when she gets excited or passionate.”

If Holmes’s voice really was a part of her grift, it seems like it required a lot of work. Amanda Seyfried, who plays Holmes in Hulu’s The Dropout, recently revealed just how labor intensive that unsettling baritone is. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she said that she spent months listening to Holmes’s deposition to study the contours of her haunting speaking style. At first, she said, her throat would “get a little sore” while practicing, and she got so worried about this that she called up her vocal coach to make sure she would still be able to sing after all that deep speaking. By the grace of God and ABBA, her vocal cords thankfully survived.

Even more worrisome: Seyfried claims that she still sometimes speaks in Holmes’s voice. “It became so natural,” she said, “I was used to it as a muscle memory.” So I guess even if Holmes crafted that voice out of thin air, it probably became second-nature after a while. Maybe you can train your eyes not to blink, too?

It’s Not Easy to Talk Like Elizabeth Holmes