UPDATE 03/24: Drumroll! Showtime has just picked up Billions as a series. The series will be in filmed in NY later this year for a 2016 premiere on the network!
This is what David Nevins, the President of Showtime says about Billions:
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew!
We’re waiting for you with open arms in New York!
Well, it’s a challenge to catch up with Damian Lewis nowadays! In fact, he has collected quite a few frequent flier miles these couple of months on Transatlantic flights.
First, He was in LA for TCA Winter Press Tour for Wolf Hall, then he was in New York to shoot new Showtime Drama Pilot Billions. Then he was in Berlin for Queen of the Desert World Premiere at Berlinale 2015. Then he was in London to attend pre-BAFTA Charles Finch and Chanel dinner… Then he was again on a plane flying stateside.
I found out about this through a cute tweet by Kali Benjovsky @sparkslessquin:
“when you have an actor (Damian Lewis) on your flight and he recites lines to himself the entire time lol”
It looks like Damian was working on his Bobby “Axe” Axelrod lines on the plane and they wrapped the pilot shoot soon after.He is now back in London, and doing rehearsals to have a wonderful comeback to stage in David Mamet’s American Buffalo on West End.
Back to Billions!
The executive producer Brian Koppelman, tweeted on Damian’s last day on the set.
I give Standing Ovation to the entire cast and crew!
So… What do we know so far about Billions? And, more importantly, what do we WANT to know?
Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti are headlining Billions. Damian Lewis takes on the role of Bobby “Axe Axelrod — “a brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund king” and Paul Giamatti is Chuck Rhoades, “a hard-charging, whip-smart U.S. Attorney.”
Brian Koppelman, David Levien and New York Times’ columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin are writing the script and executive producing, and Neil Burger (The Illusionist) is directing the pilot. Now, stop everything, have you ever listened to Brian Koppelman’s “The Moment” podcasts? They are brilliant and available on iTunes. Very highly recommended.
Now, back to Damian Lewis…
This is what Damian said about making another TV show after Homeland in an interview with Buzzfeed:
“I used to worry that you won’t always know what’s going to happen in the story because, quite frankly, sometimes the writers don’t know,” he said. “They have a broad outline, but things shift and change from week to week. People come in with ideas and they develop a slightly different storyline than they thought they were going to. I’ve come to like the spontaneity of that. Getting a new episode every 10 days is like going to bed, picking up your novel, and reaching the next chapter. And it’s great fun to go, ‘Wow, I did not see that coming — and now I’m going to play that!’”
And, now he’s going to play a brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund king… Ah, definitely NOT my type of man! But, exactly for that reason, I LOVE the fact that Damian will take on this role. I know that his touch will make Bobby believable, and human, and yes, I admit it, even likable! And, I am not even talking about the potential wardrobe 🙂
We don’t know much about Bobby except for the following:
My imagination is already at work though with this brief but extremely loaded description!
Bobby is probably everything that capitalism in its most brutal form represents. Well, he’s an “Axe” after all, isn’t he? And, in an interview with the Evening Standard, Damian Lewis says something important about who Bobby is. He says he will play a “self-made man – though he does work his way up to be a hedge fund manager.”
Now, this is interesting. If Bobby is a self-made man, then he is new money. NEW MONEY is always on the fence about losing. Because he knows how hard it is to climb the socioeconomic ladder, he can get ruthless to protect what he has… which, I think, can bring out a complex persona in Bobby — a very confident looking and acting man with some deep insecurities and anxieties. I am so curious!
Having talked about Bobby’s potential wardrobe, Damian’s wardrobe looked particularly good, too, when Damian Lewis was spotted in Soho on a weekend during the pilot shoot with the following book in his hand: Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long, Short Story by David Einhorn,founder of the New York hedge fund Greenlight Capital. It makes complete sense to learn from a hedge-fund founder if you will play one, isn’t it?
That’s what I call homework on the weekend! If you are up for some hedge-fund reading, the book is available on Amazon 🙂
The rest of the Billions cast just adds to the acting heaven I have been talking about above!
Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men) has been cast as Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife. According to Hollywood Reporter “after graduating at the top of her medical school class and training as a psychiatrist, she (Wendy) is now a highly in demand performance coach who works with some of the most powerful and influential figures in the world of high finance.”
She’s Chuck’s wife and she’s a performance coach for influential figures in finance — there is your Bobby. I am just curious to see what kind of a bridge role Wendy will take on between Chuck and Bobby.
David Costabile (Suits, Breaking Bad —I LOVED his Gale Boetticher!!!) has been cast as Mike “Wags” Wagner, Chief Operating Officer for Bobby’s hedge fund is his right hand man — I love it that Costabile, who used to help Walter White with the Blue, will now assist Bobby Axelrod with the Green 🙂
Tony nominee Condola Rashad, who appeared in Romeo & Juliet last year on Broadway, has been cast as Kate, who is described, by Broadwayworld.com as “a smart, ambitious young professional who is working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” Ambitious is always intriguing… we want to know the extent of Kate’s ambition, don’t we? 🙂
Another Tony nominee, Melissa Errico will play, according to Broadwayworld.com “the role of June, a widow with a connection to the brilliant, ambitious hedge fund king Bobby Axelrod.” Hmmm… intriguing, isn’t it? What kind of a connection are we talking about? A work relationship? Or, is it a romantic affair?
Toby Leonard Moore has been cast as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Connerty, described by Deadline Hollywood as “American born, blue collar and smart, but thinks he owes all his success to his ability to outwork the world.” Another intriguing character. How will Bryan “outwork” the world? With some back-door schemes? Who knows?
Finally, Malin Akerman (“Trophy Wife”) has been cast as Lara Axelrod, Bobby’s wife, who, according to Hollywood Reporter, “is a former nurse who, once from humble beginnings, is now married to billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod.” I am very curious how her “humble beginnings” will drive her character in the series, it could go either way, you know 🙂
According to executive producer Brian Koppelman’s tweets, the “kick-ass” cast KILLED it 🙂 I am just dying to know MORE about the script — in particular about whether Billions will approach to Wall Street in a way similar to how House of Cards approaches to Washington DC.
Most of the shoot was done outside the city so far with the exception of a day shoot in Midtown, and two days of shooting in Brooklyn. Honestly, I had never paid attention to those yellow signs saying “no parking, vehicles will be towed, because such and such will be shot here” before. This time, I paid attention, and spotted this 🙂
And, I really feel for Damian who had to brave a snow storm as well as the coldest days of winter with us in New York!