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Damian Lewis: One in a Billion, Cigar Aficianado, January/February 2016

One In A Billion

By Marshall Fine
January/February 2016

One In A Billion

Photos/David Yellen

“Homeland” Star Damian Lewis Returns To Showtime With “Billions,” Playing A Hedge-Fund Titan Using All Of His Power To Stay Ahead Of The Law

Heads turn as Damian Lewis strides into a Le Pain Quotidien franchise in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Lewis, in sunglasses, walks the length of the restaurant unmolested to a table in the rear. It’s mid-afternoon and the lunchtime crowd has thinned on this summery late-October day. Still, it seems an unlikely place to meet one of the hottest actors in television. Asked how he happened to choose this particular spot to meet, Lewis, sunglasses now off, smiles quizzically and says, “I thought you chose it.”

Tall and surprisingly rangy, Lewis has a slow grin, and blue eyes that can look both warm and icily transparent in the right light. His coppery hair actually appears to have a slightly chestnut cast this particular day. Normally Lewis is the most recognizable red-haired actor working today.

The 44-year-old Lewis has been living in New York for a couple of months, shooting his new series, “Billions,” which has its debut on Showtime in January. “We’ve broken the back on it—we’ve done more than half of them,” he says, ordering a salad and settling in for a chat.

In the series, Lewis plays Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a hedge-fund king who finds himself the target of an investigation by zealous U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades, played by Paul Giamatti. Axelrod is a hard-charger, a blue-collar guy who rose from the mean streets of Yonkers to the top of the financial industry, conquering the hedge-fund world—and then rebuilding his company out of the ashes of 9/11. In an era when calling someone a member of “the 1 percent” can be considered an insult, Axelrod is a man of the people: the popular rich guy who still eats at the same corner pizza joint that he frequented when he was a kid.

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