Did you know about Elizabeth Holmes and her story before this role was offered to you?
I did. She was somebody that I was so fascinated with way before this project.
How did you go about preparing to play her?
Elizabeth Holmes is a very complex human being so it was a lot. First of all, it was really about finding the similarities between how I walk through life, how Elizabeth does based on interviews or anything I could watch or read.
There was a treasure trove of information. But I didn’t want to imitate her. It’s such a journey to be able to portray somebody so complex. It’s a big responsibility but one I couldn’t pass up.
Elizabeth has a very distinctive way of talking. How did you master that?
The shape of my mouth isn’t the same as hers but I was able to make sounds somewhat close to how she does. Mimicking in that way is part of my job as an actor but I had to work really hard on this to get the right sound. I speak at a much higher tone than Elizabeth does so it was hard. She actually deepened her voice, even more, to sound more powerful and impactful. I couldn’t get all the way down there but I did go much deeper. I am actually a little worried about what people are going to say about it but I did my best to try to capture the oddness of her voice.
Had you seen the Saturday Night Live version Elizabeth Holmes before taking on the film role?
I don’t remember seeing it but I know the turtleneck sweater, the lips, the voice, the messy hair, is the SNL Elizabeth Holmes. I didn’t search for it after I was cast but with any character like this, you have to take the iconic things that make the character and throw them away for a minute. Then you can slowly add elements back in to create the fully formed human being.
How do you go about choosing projects at this stage of your career now that you are also a busy mother?
I just want to work, to do good work and to work with good people. I like the decisions I have made and I am very grateful for the opportunities that have come to me. But for me, it’s always been less about the outcome and all about the experience.
Is it true that, aside from acting, you are also getting into the toy business?
Yeah, I’m working with two of my girlfriends, who also have two kids, on a toy idea. So I’m balancing between a toy company and studying for roles right now. I can only do it when the kids are sleeping and I can get my computer.
How hard is it to juggle it all?
I think every time you think you can’t do something, you actually can and you do more. But I’m very lucky to have a husband who is an incredible father and my mom is there to help me out.
Would you say parenting is easier second time around?
Yeah, because you got the instincts. And it turns out I could care less about the things I learned the first time (laughs). I’m just going with the flow.
How is your daughter enjoying having a little brother?
She’s obsessed with him. My son is a typical one-year-old right now. He’s like, ‘Where are the sockets? Where is the glass? Show me where the knives are, I’m gonna have some fun!’ He’s got male energy (laughs).
You live on a farm, far away from the bright lights of Hollywood. Was that a conscious decision for when you started a family?
Yes, it was very conscious. I have always wanted to live on a farm. I need to feel grounded and to be somewhere that I can trust will always be there. We just keep getting more animals but as long as there is space for them, we will continue to find ourselves with another goat (laughs).
How grounded would you say your life is?
Very. I fight hard to impress upon people that I’m normal and that I don’t have someone waking me up with breakfast in bed. I’m not chauffeured around. Every time I meet somebody new, I’m so desperate for them to understand that you can talk to me. I want to connect like everybody else because I am like everybody else.
You have come a long way since Mean Girls. How do you look back on that time and a movie still loved by so many?
Mean Girls was my first time even seeing a movie camera. I had been working on All My Children which was a soap opera and very different. Straight away Mean Girls felt like it had real energy to it and we had all the time in the world to do a scene. There was so much food and I would get so excited for lunch every day because I knew there was a buffet and it was free. I didn’t understand box office or any of the ins-and-outs of this industry; I was just excited to be talking in a movie and to get to express myself in that way. It was the best and it turned out to be a great movie.