November 27, 2022

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Amanda Seyfried Says Her Dropout Dance Scenes Were Improvised

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In “The Dropout,” Amanda Seyfried’s dance-tastic take on Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has spurred GIFs, memes, and yes, even Twitter debates over just how cringe-inducing her dance moves really are. But that’s all just part of going method for Seyfried.

While transforming into the Silicon Valley inventor recently convicted of defrauding investors, Seyfried was encouraged by “The Dropout” showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether to fully embody Holmes’ alleged solo dance parties.

“[The dancing] became, for me, a way to show the character grappling with emotions…because I think she, the character in the show, is not great at getting her emotions out,” Meriwether told ET Online, citing an anecdote about Holmes dancing alone in her car, as shared in the investigative ABC News podcast for which the Hulu true-crime series is adapted from.

“That really stuck out to me because I was just really trying to imagine what Elizabeth Holmes is like when nobody’s watching her. And so dancing just made sense in that way, and I sort of took that and I just ran with it.”

Lead star Seyfried worked with a choreographer to “find the right moves” for the more elaborate, extended dance sequence in Episode 2 as Seyfried’s Holmes dances to Missy Elliott’s “We Run This,” but otherwise, the rest of the dance moments throughout the series are all “spontaneous.”

“It wasn’t choreographed, that’s for sure,” Seyfried said of her “weird, awkward rhythm that you want to hide” as Holmes, and “really getting in touch with the worst dancer in you. That awkwardness is kind of what brings us all together as audience members,” Seyfried continued. “We all have awkward tendencies and moments. And I’m just like, ‘Bring it out. I want to see more of that.’”

Seyfried rocks out to tracks like Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love,” Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” and LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum,” plus a series of pop hits by artists ranging from Nick Jonas to Katy Perry to act as a period piece for the mid-2010s. There’s also the cover-your-eyes sequence in Episode 5 where she attempts to seduce her lover and Theranos CCOS Sunny (Naveen Andrews) in the office after a rough day.

“With the music, it was just important to be able to transport the audience to that moment in time really quickly because the show does cover a lot of years,” showrunner Meriwether said, saying the goal of music supervisor Maggie Phillips was to “take you back immediately to 2009 versus 2015.”

Meriwether explained, “It’s going to be that one song that you recognize, you remember but it hasn’t been played so much that you’re sick of it. I think the songs help you locate yourself in time. And I ended up having a lot of fun with that part of the series.”

Read IndieWire’s own interview with Amanda Seyfried about perfecting Holmes’ voice and posture here.

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