We first meet “Dollar” Bill Stearn in Billions Pilot where he tells Bobby Axelrod he is not uncertain that Axe Capital has to short Superior Auto. His boss agrees with his assessment while he calls him the cheapest man in America! And as we find out over time that Bill is a very colorful character from his two families to his love/hate relationship with Spyros, as well as a very loyal Axe Capital employee from his fake fight with Axe to him dropping his pants in front of Axe to prove his loyalty – Bill’s signature personality trait stands out as, well, cheapness! And the thing is the man has no problem with that. On the contrary, from his lucky dollar bill that he won in a poker game from Carl Icahn to the giant dollar sign in his garage, Dollar Bill OWNS his cheapness!
And he, time and again, demonstrates why the boss may actually be right in calling him the cheapest man in America!
So here you go: As a loving tribute to one of the most popular characters, not only in our favorite show, but also on TV in general, we give you the cheapest moments of Dollar Bill Stearn in Billions! And I am thrilled to have a little surprise for you at the end of the post: I was very lucky to ask Kelly AuCoin, the fantastic and versatile actor who brings Dollar Bill to life on Billions, about his favorite Dollar Bill Cheapest Moments and he was very kind to give an answer! So make your guess and find Kelly’s answer at the end! And please feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section. Enjoy!
Season 1 – Hotel Rewards Points
When Team Chuck finds out Bill has got proprietary information from Clayton Grunwald, a research scientist in Des Moines, Iowa, about a drug called Vaccarazine that makes cows shit better, they need to place Bill in Iowa. And they do thanks to Bill’s one and probably only weakness: Bill, who is extremely cautious in going all cash during his trip, cannot help use his Silver Elite Card at Downtown Marriott not to lose on hotel rewards points 😀
Season 1 – Two Identical Minivans
Now that they know Dollar Bill was in Iowa extracting insider information from the researcher about the drug in development, Team Chuck puts the cuffs on Dollar Bill. But given that they know it would be hard to break him, their optimal play is to find a bit of information about Bill that would make him vulnerable that he would sing for Chuck about how they do business at Axe Capital. And they find it, again, thanks to Bill’s one and probably only weakness:
“Nobody has two minivans.”
Unless they are a cheap man with two families 😀 And I cannot believe they are both beige! Well, if Bill had not been cheap and bought different cars instead of two extremely boring vans, Chuck’s office would probably have had a harder time to find this extremely interesting fact about him! Yet we all know even this does not break Bill “Keyser Soze” Stearn. He chooses to confess to his wife about his second family rather then selling out the boss.
Season 1 – The Washing Machine
What would you buy for your mom when you pull your first 7-digit salary? Well, this is a hypothetical question for more than 99% of us. But I would say most of us would think of buying a house, a summer house if mom owns a home already, a nice car or something like that.
The question I have just asked is not a hypothetical question for Mr. Bill Stearn. And in a casual Axe Capital conversation we find out what he bought for his mom with his first 7-digit salary: A washing machine!
Carly: “What the fuck?”
Bill: “She was doing laundry by hand. It’s hard on the joints.”
Mafee: “Then you buy a house with a maid. not an appliance from Sears, you cheap fuck!”
I cannot agree more with Mafee!
Season 1 – The Bonus
This information about Bill does not come from Bill, but it comes up in a heated conversation between Axe and Wendy. After Bill’s arrest, Axe is now getting paranoid about whether he can trust Wendy. And when Wendy withdraws $250K from her money invested with Axe Capital to invest it with Saldana after her move to Zenobia Capital, she finds Axe in her office, quite pissed.
“Dollar Bill earned a 10 million bonus last year. You know how much he took out? Two grand.”
Hahaha. I can understand Axe wants to give Wendy the most extreme example, but this is way too extreme! I really wonder what Dollar Bill did with that two grand. Maybe he bought another washing machine for his mother? 😀
Season 2 – Axe’s Birthday Gift
As Wags’ birthday gift for Axe is a $360K downpayment for a spot in a luxury survival bunker called The Ark – believe it or not these luxury bunkers exist – so that the boss can survive when the Martians invade the world, the other employees at Axe Capital are brainstorming about what to buy for a billionaire. Not Dollar Bill! Bill knows exactly what to give to a billionaire for his birthday: Billions! And his specialty lies in giving the boss billions without spending a cent 😀
Bill gives Axe a Belgian Car Company: Klaxon. The company will have a recall, and even though timing is not certain, Bill is not uncertain that it will happen.
Season 2 – “Organic” Dry-Cleaner’s
Who knew Bill owned a dry-cleaner’s?!?! But now that we know he owns one, is anyone surprised Bill chooses to have the “organic” only in the name but not in the chemicals they actually use for dry-cleaning? We find Bill at his shop questioning Louis, his employee, about the bill for the new solvent.
Bill: “What the fuck is this, Louis?”
Louis: “It’s the bill for the new solvent.”
Bill: “Yeah I can see that. I mean why the hell is it 40% higher than the PERC?”
Louis: “PERC is bad stuff, boss. It’s bad for the staff, it’s bad for the environment. The new stuff is organic.”
Bill: “No, the new stuff is too expensive. Now that we got the vats the Orgo shit came in, we go back to the PERC and we put it in the Orgo.”
Well, I admit it is extremely kind of me to call this only a cheap act! And I can only hope my organic dry-cleaner’s on the UWS is not taking business advice from Dollar Bill! 😀
Season 3 – Manticore -2
Well, while I understand there is no room for heart in trading, I do find the celebrations led by Dollar Bill at Axe Capital when Craig Heidecker’s Manticore-2 explodes not only cheap but quite appalling.
Bill: “Who’s gonna say it? Fuck it. I’ll say it. Farpoint is gonna tank. It’s pay day on a beautiful short.”
And, as if this is not enough… He turns to Taylor:
“You didn’t put a banana in his tailpipe, did ya?”
Now, even though the high-fives and the “fuck yeah!”s make me feel nauseous, I also feel like I need to give credit to Bill for being honest. He just says what almost everyone else in that room thinks at the moment loudly. Because if they had not thought something could go wrong with the mission they would not have shorted the stock in the first place!
Season 3 – Street Parking
Dollar Bill is probably the only Axe Capital employee that complains about the company headquarters being relocated to Manhattan and I strongly suspect one major reason is the parking situation!
While there is parking space as well as valet parking available all over Manhattan, you have access only when you are willing to pay! And Dollar Bill is certainly not! So it is quite hilarious to see him paying at the machine for street parking while Porsche-jacket wearing Spyros leaving his precious car with the valet 😀
Season 3 – The “Vulture”
Well, Bill is not particularly a philanthropist 😀 While it is not that he does not give… because he, in fact, gives when he knows the returns are high 😀 He certainly knows when he needs to be generous, say, when there is someone who can provide him with valuable information that would bring millions of dollars to Axe Capital, or when there are young and talented baseball players he can invest in to collect the returns when they make the big league.
So our boy is always willing to throw out a herring to a catch a whale. And you know, when you think about it, even serving as a Sunday School teacher can be filed under this category! 😀
That said, if there is no return that could be measured in monetary terms, Bill does prefer not to give, and moreover, he despises organizations that ask for money, especially his money, including the Axelrod Foundation! So no wonder he calls Sean Ayles, the director of the Axelrod Foundation, a “vulture” when the latter attends a meeting at Axe Capital to help manage the PR aspect of the Tsunami crisis in Brazil 😀
Ayles: “Our own foundation was set up for just these situations as a kind of emotional and fiscal catch-a;; for you to use as a tool for you to get your conscience out of the way.
Bill: “I wondered why you showed at this meeting, you fucking vulture. What would salve my conscience and my wallet is if I was a fucking contractor in Brazil.”
Season 3 – The “Free” Newspaper
Last but certainly not the least. On the contrary, I personally believe no one can get any cheaper than this and especially so if he is someone in the top 1% of the income distribution! I mean, who does wait for the right moment to put his hand in before the lid is shut to steal a fucking newspaper?
WHO DOES THAT?
And if we are to believe Axe, and I do since he knows his man, Dollar Bill may have walked for blocks to get his “free” newspaper 😀
Now that we have our complete list it is time to reveal which cheap moments of Dollar Bill are Kelly AuCoin’s favorites! I cannot thank Kelly enough for taking the time to get back to me. He is the best!
“I’d say having two mini vans is pretty high up there. And then snagging the free newspaper before the lid shut.”
Here is to many more years of Dollar Bill proving he is as cheap as they come… 😀 And we will keep the hope that Billions folks may release his annual comp meeting with Axe on DVD extras or something. Please, and thank you!