Alex Gibney discusses his HBO movie about Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes9,089 views
- 8 months ago
Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer sat down with documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney to discuss making the HBO film 'The Inventor, Out For Blood In Silicon Valley,' which chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes,
ANDY SERWER: Some people break the rules to get to the top. Alex Gibney has made his name exposing them. A renowned filmmaker, gives latest is "The Inventor, Out For Blood In Silicon Valley," which tells the story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.
His big break didn't come until he was 52 years old, in 2005, with an Oscar-nominated documentary on the fall of Enron. He won an Academy Award a couple of years later, and hasn't looked back. Gibney is here to talk about how he kept faith in his work over the decades, and why corruption is a defining story of our times.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Influencers." I'm Andy Serwer where I want to welcome our guest Alex Gibney, the Academy Award and Oscar award winning documentary filmmaker, whose newest HBO film is "The Inventor, Out For Blood in Silicon Valley," which is about Elizabeth Holmes the now disgraced former CEO of Theranos. Alex, great to see you.
ALEX GIBNEY: Andy, great to be here.
ANDY SERWER: So tell us about how you decided to make this film about Elizabeth Holmes.
ALEX GIBNEY: Interestingly, it was suggested to me by two fairly powerful executives, Richard Kepler at HBO, and Graydon Carter, both of whom had been big admirers of Elizabeth Holmes. And I think Richard initially wanted to do a kind of follow doc to show her greatness. But then the worm turned, and not too long after, the "Wall Street Journal" pieces came out. Richard said why don't you take it on? I said, it sounds like a good story.
ANDY SERWER: So she's obviously a fascinating character. What do you think it is about her that resonates so much with us?
ALEX GIBNEY: Well, that's a really good question. I mean, I think we're fascinated by fraud. And I think we're also fascinated by fraud when it comes in a package that seems to be so noble and compelling. And Elizabeth was that. I mean, she presented herself as this very young dropout, 20 years old, she starts her company.
And she's brilliant, and she makes something of herself. And now she's a billionaire, and she's the next Steve Jobs. All that seems so compelling. But the idea that that was all somehow a fraud I think is fascinating to people. And the question is, did she know she was perpetuating a fraud, or was there something more mysterious going on?
ANDY SERWER: I mean, that's kind of a central question. And people debated that when I was leaving the screening. In other words, did she believe her own lies, or was she knowingly telling, not telling the truth? What do you think?
ALEX GIBNEY: I think she is afflicted with what the police call noble cause corruption, meaning simply put, it's like the end justifies the means. She had a mission, and she thought it was a noble mission, this blood testing device that was going to democratize blood testing. And I think she also had a vision of herself, and what role she was going to play.
She was so invested in that that she thought along the way, if things go wrong, it's OK if I fudge here, fudge there. Because after all, my mission is so important. But over time, the distance between the mission and reality grew, and grew, and grew, until it was outright fraud. So I think it's one of those things where if you believe you're lying for a good cause, you can do it very effectively.
ANDY SERWER: I mean, some people have said, for instance, maybe this is taking things farther than I should, but hear me out, that President Trump tells lies. Doesn't know he's lying, my father was born in Germany. Is there a similarity there?
ALEX GIBNEY: I think there is a similarity, though I think Trump is really off the scale, because you know, he-- it's almost hard to call what he does lies, because he'll say whatever is beneficial to him at that moment, and I don't think he really cares whether it's a lie or it's truth.
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