“What’s going to be interesting about this story is specifically this story… So who will Bobby Axelrod turn out to be? And what is he prepared to do to retain power?”
– Damian Lewis, TCA 2015 Panel on Billions
In case you missed it, I did a first sketch of Bobby Axelrod a few weeks ago here using the little information we had in hand at the time from interviews with Damian Lewis accompanied with a few hints from the first 60-second long teaser. Now we had the Billions panel with the show creators and the cast at TCA 2015 in which Damian Lewis gave more than a few hints about Bobby Axelrod, the first full-length series trailer is out and we have a premier date, too! Billions is coming to Showtime on January 17, 2016 — just a few days before my birthday! Well, I happily accept the best gift ever from my favorite actor and expect it to be repeated for a number of years. Thank you, Damian 😀
So… With the new information at hand, it’s time, my friends, to form and re-form opinions and do a re-sketch of Bobby Axelrod! And given that how much I could write with the little information I had last time, this one should be a two-part post!
Let’s start with the recent casting news that has added to our excitement! First, Noah Emmerich, whom The Americans fans know very well, is guest-starring as an old friend of Bobby’s and the two guys take a road trip that “tests the limits of their bond.” For the record, Noah Emmerich is not the first The Americans actor that we have in the cast. We have wonderful Kelly AuCoin — oh yes, you know him as Pastor Tim in The Americans, and also as Doug Stamper’s brother Gary in House of Cards — whose Billions character is called “Dollar” Bill Stearn! Man, what kind of a guy has such a nickname, huh? Is he selling his soul for a dollar or what? 😀 I just can’t wait to meet the guy!
Other brilliant casting news brings us a young, talented actress Kerry Bishe as a “young alluring musician” who will “force” Bobby “consider his life choices.” Intriguing, huh? We can speculate, of course, on the life choices Bobby is forced to re-consider, and for me, speculation is half the fun…
Yet, we all know that we ain’t seen nothing yet!
Ok. One thing that is constantly playing in my mind about Bobby is that he is a man of two worlds, namely his blue-collar past and his one percent present, with one world dominating the other at times with some inevitable collisions of the two worlds at other times…
As I wrote on Damian Lewis bringing to life two guys this year with similar backgrounds that end up at the opposite sides of the American Dream — Teach in American Buffalo and Bobby in Billions — I focused on two themes regarding Bobby: (i) him being “new money” and (ii) that thin line between personal loyalties and business. I am over the moon to report that Damian’s words at the TCA panel, in fact, have verified my expectations about these two themes: “…Bobby is a blue-collar guy who, if you like, is nouveau riche, new money, and I think lives by a code of honor, a set of street rules, if you like, a little bit more. A kid from a blue-collar community where loyalty is fiercely protected and people are dispatched ruthlessly if they don’t adhere to that code.” So… Bobby operates his business with a set of “street rules” which brings to mind a sort of Tony Soprano approach to business… that “loyalty” in the “family” is the most important moral code to stick to and at all costs — one is simply out if one doesn’t. If you are a Sopranos fan like me, I’m sure you’re now thinking about Big Pussy or Chris. OMG. What’s in store for us, Bobby? Just hoping I’m safe since I am “Go Team Axelrod” all the way 😀
At the TCA Panel, Brian Koppelman, an executive producer for the show, also points out Bobby Axelrod is “somebody who didn’t have certain advantages and wasn’t admitted to the club at an early time.” Yes, Bobby is not “Blue Blood” if you will. He has a lot of money now, but he did not grow up on Park Avenue, and he did not go to “right” schools — Hofstra is Bobby’s alma mater, a private university on Long Island, and a great school by the way, but not one that “blue blood” kids graduate from. And just THAT may be sufficient for him not to be welcomed to certain societies and exclusive clubs, at least, early on… I can imagine Bobby climbing the socioeconomic ladder slowly but surely though and that brings me to the second thing that is constantly playing in my mind… THAT proud look, THAT “I made it all myself, did you?” look that we see on Bobby’s face for more than a couple of times in the trailer… Does it just come from his billions of dollars but also from the social circles that he’s now operating in?
Andrew Ross Sorkin, another executive producer for the show, but first and foremost a celebrated NY Times columnist as well as a co-anchor on CNBC’s pre-market morning news program Squawk Box, comments on the high finance world that he’s been covering for a long time: “They are competing as much for power and pride as the billions of dollars at stake… The money piece of it is really just the scorecard.”
Hey, why not read into Bobby’s inner talk (in caps below) in a few scenes for fun? I kind of see that PRIDE Andrew Ross Sorkin is talking about in these scenes and yeah some borderline cockiness, too 🙂
Bobby is looking around his new house with pride. I MADE IT.
Bobby is talking at Delivering Alpha conference (you can find out more about hedge funds and this important real-life conference in my first sketch of Bobby): “The moment I let someone in a government office tell me what I can or cannot buy, I may as well close the shop, but I’m not closing the shop.” HEY, I MADE IT and YOU CANNOT TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME.
Bobby is looking proudly at HIS helicopter. Oh, yes, this hint comes from a recent interview with Malin Akerman who reveals the Axelrods have a helicopter… and a jet, too! I MADE IT.
Bobby is leaning on a fence looking at his wife, who shares his modest background, but is now in designer clothes, proudly. HEY, HONEY, WE MADE IT.
Bobby is responding to Chuck Rhoades who tells him to go away: “I should. But again what’s the point of having fuck you money if you never say fuck you?” HEY, I MADE IT AND YOU CANNOT TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME. BE MY GUEST AND TRY.
Well, what do you think happens when the blue-collar guy from Yonkers who KNOWS how hard it is to climb the socioeconomic ladder feels threatened that they may try to take it away from him? Damian says Billions will focus on what Bobby is prepared to do to retain power… Well, to reiterate an argument I made earlier here — NEW MONEY is particularly restless about losing. Because they know how hard it is to come to the point they come in life, they can do whatever it takes to protect what they have. NEW MONEY is anxious, NEW MONEY can get absolutely ruthless when they feel threatened. Bobby seems to be exactly THAT type — “I made it and you can not take it away from me” type. Possibilities are endless and we’ll see the extent to which Bobby is willing to go with his “street rules” to protect his “family”… which brings me to his better half Lara… but this post is already too long and loaded so let’s continue the conversation in a second post with some possible family dynamics and how Bobby’s two worlds co-exist in Billions. See you in a week with Part II.
In the meantime, as we keep making BUZZ for Billions and have fun with it, there is a couple of ways to have even more FUN!
Last, but absolutely not the least, there is a GREAT Billions fan group that you should join and chat about the show on Facebook and follow them @Billions_F on Twitter!
Let’s make it BIG for Billions together!