TV & Movies

Hulu's The Dropout Cast Looks So Much Like Their Real-Life Tech Counterparts

The new miniseries tells the story of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Hulu's 'The Dropout' Cast Vs. Real-Life Counterparts. Photo via Beth Dubber/Hulu
Beth Dubber/Hulu

Beth Dubber/Hulu

Based on an ABC News podcast, Hulu’s The Dropout explores the rise and fall of healthcare startup Theranos. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes in 2003, the company claimed to have developed a revolutionary machine that’d perform several rapid health tests from just one drop of blood.

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The supposed breakthrough technology earned the company a reported $9 billion by 2015. Forbes named Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire, and Joe Biden said Theranos was “the laboratory of the future.” But in 2016, it all came crashing down for Holmes.

Beth Dubber/Hulu

In The Dropout, Amanda Seyfried portrays the deceitful entrepreneur who fabricated claims about Theranos’ technology’s ability to receive funding from investors. Holmes was indicted on several counts of wire fraud by a federal grand jury in June 2018.

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Now named one of the world’s most disappointing leaders by Fortune, Holmes is currently awaiting sentencing and faces up to 20 years in federal prison for her conviction. “I wanted to play somebody who’s infamous and mysterious,” Seyfried recently said.


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Naveen Andrews (Lost) plays Sunny Balwani, Theranos’ former president and COO who (unbeknownst to their staff) shared a romantic relationship with Holmes. She’s since claimed Balwani was emotionally and physically abusive during their 10-plus years together, which he’s denied.

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A fellow entrepreneur, Balwani was 19 years Holmes’ senior and married to another woman when they met on a college trip to Beijing. They officially got together in 2003, and Balwani joined Theranos in 2009 before exiting the company in 2016 as controversy arose.


Beth Dubber/Hulu

Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird) appears as Stanford University School of Medicine professor Phyllis Gardner. When Holmes showed her an idea for a patch that’d detect and treat many infectious diseases in 2002, Gardner insisted it wouldn’t work, becoming one of Holmes’ first-ever skeptics.

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Gardner followed the rise of Theranos, which built technology based on the wishful ideas Holmes presented her, and became outspoken about her skepticism. “It was very tough for me [seeing] that women were idolizing her. I didn’t like that they were idolizing a fraud,” she said.


Beth Dubber/Hulu

William H. Macy (Fargo) plays physician and inventor Dr. Richard Fuisz. A neighbor and friend of the Holmes family, Fuisz allegedly patented technology based on Elizabeth’s ideas, portrayed in The Dropout as a jealousy tactic after she didn’t approach him for advice on Theranos.

Chitownhustler, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Holmes and Theranos sued Fuisz for the alleged crime in 2011, though he denied the allegations. Fuisz then connected with journalist John Carreyrou and helped expose Holmes’ crimes for several WSJ articles and the 2018 book Bad Blood, which is currently being adapted into a film.

Beth Dubber/Hulu

Sam Waterston (Grace and Frankie) stars as businessman and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, who became a Theranos board member in 2011. Along with many high-profile political figures, Shultz recruited his grandson, Stanford graduate Tyler Shultz, to Theranos in 2013.

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Despite his grandfather’s loyalty to the controversial company, Tyler was one of the first to speak out against Holmes in 2013. George praised his commitment to “patient safety” after Theranos folded in 2018: “Tyler navigated a very complex situation in ways that made me proud.”

ABC News

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