Damian Lewis talks MI6 & private jets
Your character in new show Billions profits from the death of his former co-workers after 9/11. Agent Brody would be turning in his grave, Damian.
[Laughs] I think he might understand!
Which [Billions] episodes have you seen?
The first two.
OK, well yes, he does do outrageous things in order to get what he wants. But I suppose his redeeming qualities are his generosity towards his friends and family. I think he mostly believes that, within the rules of the game – and those rules are fairly loosely interpreted – if you’re in the world of making money, then anything goes. He certainly thinks that the money-makers, and the financial sector, should be left to get on with what they do best, which is making lots of money without too much intervention. Regulation is a bad thing, you see.
You sat down with hedge-fund billionaires to prepare for the role. What was the most surprising thing you learnt?
Some of them take a very intellectual stance on the importance of hedge funds. They think they’re necessary in order to keep the economy fluid and healthy. They’re pretty persuasive. And just how separate hedge funders are from conventional Wall Street, from the banks of Wall Street. They are a separate entity.
[Laughs] Yeah. Stick it under your mattress.
Well, to be fair, all hedge funders say they’re risk averse. That’s their mantra. They’ll only invest when they feel absolutely certain that they can get a return. They consider their research to be that much more in-depth than anyone else’s. So, by the time they’re making an investment, they’re fairly certain they’ve picked a winner. There’s an analytical, scientific approach to it – it’s a much less fast and loose world than you might think of from the Eighties, for example. It’s not Gordon Gekko-style, but that’s what they’d have you believe.
The first episode sees you diving into a pool naked. How was that?
Cold. It had stopped snowing literally half an hour before we filmed. Standing naked in front of your crew and 40 people is a very strange experience.
What’s the first thing you’d buy if you became a billionaire?
A private jet.
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