The Dropout directors Michael Showalter and Francesca Gregorini zeroed in on a number of small details to help Amanda Seyfried prepare for her role as disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in the Hulu miniseries.
Before the cameras rolled, the two sat down with Seyfried to discuss blocking and how they planned to tell a “cohesive” story on Holmes’ life — from childhood to her criminal trial for defrauding investors.
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During a Contenders Television: The Nominees award-season panel, Showalter and Gregorini recalled meeting with Seyfried to share their vision for the series.
“We just talked for like three hours, maybe even more, in general terms about the character and the story, and in a very sort of like, ‘Who is she? What do we think as individuals? What are our individual feelings about it,’” said Showalter, who is also an executive producer on the Emmy-nominated series.
Based on a podcast, The Dropout depicts Holmes pitching a revolutionary method to test blood that relied on a single drop from a thumb prick. The invention never worked, leading to a federal investigation and criminal trial.
Showalter directed four episodes of the eight-part Hulu series. Gregorini and Erica Watson each helmed two parts.
Gregorini was responsible for Episodes 5 and 6 and said the show’s lead actress did her homework and didn’t need much guidance.
“Amanda is such a consummate actor and it was such a pleasure to work with her,” said Gregorini. “She definitely had homed in on that character. There was no real hand-holding to be done.”
Seyfried said she initially was hesitant about working with multiple directors but learned to embrace their vision.
“I was excited about a new sensitivity and a new understanding. I also trusted immensely that you and Michael were going to make it feel cohesive from him leaving and you entering,” Seyfried said to her co-directors. “So I actually felt really safe at that point, when it finally happened, I think because you both understand it in such an important way in making sure that we’re telling the same story as it evolves.”
Created by Elizabeth Meriwether, The Dropout is nominated for six Emmys, and both Showalter and Gregorini are up for Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
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