I told you all before. I love New York, I love Damian Lewis more, and I love Damian Lewis in New York the most! And I love the fact that Billions is taking over New York, the BIG film studio that it is… and not just because they are shooting all over the place, from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn to Long Island… but also the characters are NY characters from all over the place: Yonkers. Inwood. Do we know where Chuck or Wendy grew up? Maybe Manhattan? And then they live all over the place, too: Manhattan. Hamptons. Brooklyn. I am so excited about this because New York neighborhoods are real microcosms that each one has its own unique character and resident profile that makes it distinct. New Yorkers are known to be quite territorial, too; I once read they are just so infatuated with their neighborhoods, be it Upper West Side, Chelsea, Inwood, Park Slope or Coney Island… that they just can’t move more than a few blocks when they need to — I am certainly a living example of that. We lived on West 70s for 7 years and when we needed more space we could not look further than 2 block radius… Go, Upper West Side or as we say… Upper Best Side! 🙂 And, hey, it turns out they shot Billions on Upper West Side at some point, too — bummer I wasn’t there.
I am a believer that you write the BEST about what you know about the MOST. That’s why I am beside myself that the two creators of the show, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, proudly hail from Long Island — and hey, for whatever is worth, I worked on Long Island for five years — and really know NY with its geographical and demographic nuances. I just know the characters they create will feel so REAL and we will not get enough of them, yes, especially one of them 😀
Because we have been following the shooting very closely online, we have a pretty good idea about shooting locations. And, it seems, next to VERY interesting casting calls for human extras, Billions will showcase several landmark buildings as well as the world class dining scene of New York as brilliant extras in the show! My imagination runs wild that, by the end of the first season, I would LOVE to come up with a Billions Season 1 Locations Tour on the blog 😀 I promise to try my best to spot all those places we will see in the show; however, it would be so cool if we did collaboratively! So, everyone, please let us know if you see a place, say a restaurant, or a building that you are familiar with, and we will happily add it to our list! Thank you!
So… we will travel today to a few places of interest from what we’ve seen so far in promo videos as a warm-up for the bigger exercise of a Season 1 Locations Tour 🙂
We naturally start with views of lower Manhattan that is the center of both business and government and thereby symbolizing both the Axelrods and the Rhoades of New York City!
US attorney Chuck Rhoades looks very preoccupied as he is walking on Reade Street, doesn’t he? As he is deep in his thoughts about the right time to make his move against Bobby Axelrod, the building you see on the left with “New Amsterdam” (first name for New York) engraved on its facade is the Manhattan Municipal Building.
Where is Mr. Rhoades walking to? I put my money on Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse because the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York sits in this building and it is one of the most influential and active federal district courts in the United States, largely because of its jurisdiction over New York’s major financial centers! And, once Chuck passes the municipal building on the right, and turns left on Centre street, he hits the Courthouse!
And I am quite positive our Chief Assistant US attorney Bryan Connerty is standing on the stairs of Thurgood Marshall Courthouse here.
Moving on to the Axelrods!
We see our rather glorious couple first standing in front of and then leaning on the fences of Bowling Green Park — city’s oldest park — just across from one of the most beautiful buildings in NYC in my humble opinion! It used to be an US Custom House and now houses Smithsonian’s The National Museum of American Indian.
And, as hinted by a new exclusive Billions video, Bobby Axelrod may be a guest of honor at the event Axelrods are attending.
However, we know that these two “tough” cookies have not been “in the club” all their lives; they, in fact, grew up in New York’s tough neighborhoods…
Bobby hails from Yonkers, an inner suburb of New York City that directly borders the Bronx and he, in Damian Lewis’ words at TCA “…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.” And, Lara gives a hint about her own background as she openly threatens Melissa Errico’s character in the trailer: “In Inwood growing up, if someone has a problem with you … And they take that beef public, the ground just falls out from beneath them.” Whoa…
It turns out there are two Inwoods in NY: One on Long Island and the other in the upper tip of Manhattan, an almost Bronx location which would put young Lara close to young Bobby geographically — assuming they met when they were young. Besides, Wiki says this particular Inwood was a pretty tough neighborhood with the highest crime rates until 1990s and so I bet this is the Inwood Lara is talking about!
And now let’s bring Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades together at a location. Damian Lewis pointed out at New Yorker Festival that Bobby and Chuck did not see each other that often in the show so this is probably one of the few scenes the two men face each other. Besides, it may be the most talked about scene from the trailer as well… in which Bobby tells Chuck: “What’s the point of having Fuck You Money if you never say Fuck You?” 🙂
Now that you have seen the red seats and the windows behind Bobby Axelrod… This room is The Stage — a state-of-the-art auditorium perfect for lectures, conferences at Times Center for you! It is also the venue for the celebrated Times Talks!
And, it seems the production took advantage of downstairs in The Times Center as well for the instant hit Fuck You Money scene!
The orange colored walls and the stairs ring a bell?
And, New York Times Center and Fuck You Money scene are also special for us just because it was there and then Damian Lewis found out about our blog!
Next to the several landmark buildings, it seems NYC dining scene will also make memorable appearances in the show — there has been A LOT OF casting calls for extras as restaurant patrons or staff — which makes perfect sense. We have a hedge-fund billionaire and a U.S. attorney hanging out in different circles but obviously having a lot of business and personal dinners in the dining capital of the world!
For example, we have Bobby here at an upscale restaurant! Is he drinking some Chateau Margaux with dinner? Well, it’s at least a Bordeaux bottle standing next to him…
In my original post, I did not know about this restaurant other than guessing it should be a steak house in midtown. Taking after my “forensic fan” partner JaniaJania and doing my own forensic research — a close scrutiny of the midtown city blocks Billions has used so far with a thorough examination of these blocks building by building… Yeah I know… I am a bit crazy but hey it gives results! This dining room is the White Room at Hunt and Fish Club. So I was right – it is a steak house 🙂
I also found out Billions recently filmed a scene at one of the city’s most popular restaurants, Maialino… Well, It started with one of the actresses posting on Instagram a photo with Damian Lewis from Gramercy Park. Now… first look at that photo because Bobby Axelrod looks really good, and then pay attention to the blue checker table clothes that scream “I’m an Italian restaurant.” So the hints I used for the search were: Gramercy Park and Italian Restaurant.
This is Maialino for you — a restaurant I have been dying to try for a while, and now that they have shot a Billions scene here, I cannot have a better excuse to try it as soon as possible!
So… Bobby eats really well which has also been confirmed by Brian Koppelman who tweeted Momofuku Ssam — one of the wonderful David Chang restaurants in the city — was on set serving food on Bobby’s private jet… 🙂
And, once in a while, Bobby seems to go back to his roots and enjoy a romantic evening with Lara at a neighborhood pizza joint — maybe in their old neighborhood. This lovely scene was filmed at Rosa’s Pizza on Metropolitan Avenue in Queens and Yelp reviews are quite good, so go have a Sicilian slice if you are in the area! Could it be that this is the place Bobby and Lara had their first date? Oh my God… I can write a novel called Axelrods: The Early Years just right now and right here!
You know, pizza is serious business in New York and hats off to Damian for eating his NY slice so authentically! JaniaJania — who also lived and went to school on Long Island — approves and says “ya gotta fold it to keep the grease from dripping and envelope that cheesy goodness right into your gaping mouth, amiright or amiright?” — you are damn right, partner!
And the restaurant where Bobby delivers his “when did it become a crime to succeed in this country?” line…
Greenwich Time recently had a little news story about Tony Caposso, a partner at a local steakhouse, making his screen debut in Billions premiere with the picture of Caposso with Damian Lewis.
And, hey, just looking in the background a bit carefully always pays off! Brazen Fox it is — a pub in White Plains!
And, as Bobby Axelrod goes back and forth between his two worlds, old and new, Chuck Rhoades also goes back and forth between his business and domestic life. Here is a glimpse of Chuck probably walking his kids to school in the beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope.
For those of you that are not familiar with the area, most families living in Park Slope can, in fact, afford to live on Manhattan, but they CHOOSE to live in Brooklyn to keep a certain lifestyle. Brooklyn does not have the RUSH that you constantly feel on Manhattan and is more family friendly. And they have Prospect Park, the Brooklyn equivalent of Central Park even though I firmly believe there is no place like Central Park 🙂 And as more and more professional couples started to move to Park Slope to raise families, the house prices in the neighborhood got quite competitive with those in the affluent parts of Manhattan. So, we can confidently say that even though Chuck and Wendy may not be a 1% couple like Bobby and Lara; they are two well-paid professionals doing pretty well!
And, hey, who is Chuck’s better half, Wendy, waiting for in front of the Lyric Theater in the heart of Times Square? She and Chuck are having a date night? Hope he does not stand her up!
A recent tweet also hints that Axelrods were shooting a scene at Wave Hill in the Bronx: Wave Hill is a 28-acre estate with its beautiful gardens overlooking the Hudson river and the Palisades, and its vistas stretching to George Washington Bridge. It seems Billions visited Wave Hill at the peak of fall foliage, so get ready for a pretty romantic setting…
Finally, a scene from the trailer that I could not put my finger on 🙂
Who is living at 1010 Fifth Avenue? Certainly a NICE New York address on the Museum Mile with previous apartment sales averaging around $7,000,000! Bobby may have a pied-a-terre in the city? I dunno but I know the guys on Mad Men who had pied-a-terres in the city (I’m looking at you, Pete Campbell!) and what happens there stays there, just sayin’ 😀 (UPDATE 1/1/2016: Wrong! Very Wrong! It turns out to be Chuck Sr’s apartment building. Oh yeah our US attorney is as blue blood as one can get in NY 🙂
UPDATE 04/25/2016: If you want to see our 12 weeks of Billions locations, please go here!