In the four days since the trailer for Hulu‘s The Dropout dropped on YouTube, it has racked up close to six million views. To say people are ready to devour the miniseries would be an understatement. That’s thanks in part to star Amanda Seyfried, who plays Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes with a scary intensity that comes from serious preparation.
It also comes—Seyfried tells me before Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York Fashion Week kickoff dinner at L’Avenue—from the fact that she’s wearing not just Holmes’s signature turtleneck, but the puffy vest and more. When she first put on the costume, she says she was like, “My body is meant for this moment,” adding, “It takes the whole look. You can’t have two-thirds of the look. It takes makeup, hair, outfit, mannerisms, body language. And I felt like, ‘I’m in the right job. I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.'”
Visiting New York City from her farm in the Catskills, the actress talks to BAZAAR.com about how she prepared for the role, what farm life has been like, and what she’s been shopping for lately … because, yup, she’s been clothes crazy just like the rest of us.
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You’ve done the thing that everyone wants to do, which is pack up and move to a farm. What’s it been like in the Catskills?
Oh, my God, our generator broke. We had a huge ice storm, and most people lost power. There’s no Wi-Fi, no cable, and that’s talking crazy when you have kids, because they don’t have the TV. I just had to adapt really quickly. It’s now an adjustment for me to be in the city, because it’s so quiet up there. I’m absolutely a homebody. I despise a plane trip anywhere, so this time has really worked for me in a lot of ways. Obviously, getting COVID twice was horrible, people dying and losing people and all that was horrible, but I really did enjoy being cuddled up. We really had all we really needed there.
Did you miss getting dressed up during the pandemic?
I did. We all need to break up the monotony. Even if you enjoy the monotony, it needs to be broken every once in a while. I looked forward to 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. every day listening to the governor talk about what was happening, because it was information and I felt safe in my home. The “hard pants” thing is fucking hilarious to me.
Did you wear hard pants? Were you a hard-pants person?
No, no, it was just sweatpants, of course. That’s what I do when I’m on the farm, anyways, especially when it’s cold out. I wear two pairs of pants to go feed the animals. But I have my outfits, and I have all these beautiful hanging designer dresses and pant suits, and I missed it, I did. I actually realized that I’m more of a shopper and a fashion fan than I thought I was.
Tonight, I was so excited to come out in this suit. I put it on and my stylist said, “Oh, actually, can you wear the black Oscar de la Renta dress tonight?” And I was like, “Ohhh, nope. I’m on a red-carpet tonight. Sorry, but this is exciting again.” I missed getting dressed and putting makeup on and seeing other people and feeling sexy, or feeling glamorous.
Did you ever find yourself reaching for something in the closet to just get dressed?
Recently, it’s all Marni. I mean, the amount of shopping I did during the pandemic … it was very specific, very specific things.
What’s the best thing that you got?
I bought these Saint Laurent boots. Where was I going to wear them? But I ended up wearing them last year during the in-and-out of the pandemic. I do shop a lot, but it’s mostly for kids’ stuff, and then all of a sudden, it was back to me, and I was buying all this stuff. I got these incredible Bottega heels that I have never worn, and it was because I missed it, and because nobody was putting them on me for photo shoots. I really enjoy fashion. I mean, Instagram’s all I had.
That’s why, I’ve got to say, the whole Oscar campaign last year for me was so fun, because I had been away from it for so long. I stopped filming Mank in February, and then the pandemic happened, so all my trips were canceled. And then back in November, we started doing stuff, but I didn’t leave my house. I was getting dressed, but I was still keeping my sweatpants on the bottom. Then all of a sudden, we were doing full fittings for the Golden Globes and the Oscars and Critics Choice Awards, and I was like, “Oh, this is like a whole thing.” And then it stopped again.
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Can we talk about The Dropout for a second?
Yeah. I’m so excited about it.
Take me back to that first day when you put on the turtleneck.
For the fitting, when I put the turtleneck on—and it was not just the turtleneck, it was the puffy vest—I was like, “My body is meant for this moment.” It takes the whole look. You can’t have two-thirds of the look. It takes makeup, hair, outfit, mannerisms, body language. And I felt like, “I’m in the right job. I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.” I also prepared like a motherfucker.
How do you prep for this kind of role?
The first choice you have to make is no judgments when you play somebody. I can’t diagnose anybody. And I also think we’re all so nuanced. We’re built on so many different experiences, from childhood to where we are now. And I got to study. There’s a lot of information out there, and I was privy to all of it.
Elizabeth Meriwether, who’s the creator of the show, also interviewed everybody who was interviewed in Bad Blood, The Dropout podcast, and The Inventor. She did her own interviews, and we got information. I Zoomed some people. I studied the shit out of the deposition tapes, because it’s about capturing an essence.
I’m Amanda. I’m never not being Amanda, but hopefully, you have to work harder to uncover the Amanda, depending on the role I’m playing. In this, I hope that I disappear. I did my best to soak it in, and when it was time to play her, I was like, “Oh, God, what am I doing? Am I doing it right?” But then, you know, you get used to it. It’s muscle memory, right?
I mean, I’m sure the more you did the voice and all of the things—
It was also about showing people that the voice is really important to her and the story, for sure. But if we’re going to commit to the journey, they have to start at the beginning. I mean, the point of the story is to see, discover, and explore why she made the choices that she made. She’s a fascinating person. She’s really smart; she had a lot going for her. She made some bad choices with great intentions in the beginning, and then suddenly, she’s here, and like, “How the fuck did that happen? What happened in between?” We have some imagined realities, and obviously, it’s fiction, but it’s all based on facts and information. I could talk about it for hours. I just love these documentaries.
What was the hardest part of playing the role?
I think the hardest part was continuing to play the facts. It’s so complicated. [The technology] was a great idea. I really would love it to be true one day, and I think a lot of people are working on this stuff. I’m not; my brain doesn’t work that way.
Elizabeth clearly had her uniform, but what would you wear if you had to choose a uniform?
I always go back to blue jeans and a white T-shirt. These days, tucked in. Back in the early 2000s, it was loose. And actually, much like Elizabeth Holmes, I have the same pair of boots. I probably have about five or six Ariat boots, horse-riding boots, that I started wearing when I was in South Carolina shooting Dear John in 2010. I wear those boots and a pair of jeans.
I mean, look, it was really smart for her. There’s a scene where I’m going through my closet and you have one quick flash through the closet, and it’s fucking hilarious. It’s just black. And it’s really funny. And I’m like, “Is this ridiculous, or is this what her closet looked like?” I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But if you’re not going to wear a red dress, then why have one?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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