DAMIAN LEWIS TALKS BILLIONS, NEW YORK & DONALD TRUMP
Damian Lewis is one of the great British actors of our time, with a host of acclaimed TV shows to his name. Now, he’s starring in Sky Atlantic’s Billions. Here, he talks about preparing for a role, loving New York City and the luxury of flying by private jet
Damian Lewis is somewhat enigmatic. A well-respected British actor (he was awarded an OBE in 2014), he’s attractive, but doesn’t fall into the pretty-boy category, and he maintains a sense of easy likeability despite his often gritty roles. Lewis is playing self-made billionaire Bobby Axelrod in new TV show Billions, a man conflicted by the trappings of greed and power that come with newly acquired wealth.
Lewis is no stranger to portraying complex characters, you need only look at his turn as Nicholas Brody in Homeland to see how he thrives in this type of role.
For Billions, Lewis worked to get to grips with all facets of Axelrod’s character, incorporating the good, the bad and the ugly. “His self-belief and confidence is appealing…and the way in which he epitomises the rise of the working man and prescribes in some way to the American dream is attractive to people. He comes from a background of fire chiefs, nurses and police, an Irish blue-collar background. And I think it’s appealing that he is married to a woman of his own background. Malin Åkerman, who plays my wife, is staggeringly beautiful, but she is not a trophy wife. She’s someone that he’s known for most of his life and she comes from the same sort of neighbourhood,” Lewis tells me.
The actor is thoughtful and obviously intelligent. Educated at Eton College, he also attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and believes in researching a role thoroughly. When preparing for Billions, he started by reading around the subject. “I can recommend Investopedia to the starter investor, also Andrew Sorkin’s book, Michael Lewis’ book, and Greenblack’s book. There’s lots of literature out there.” Then, he spent time with some seriously successful “hedge fund billionaires”, looking for common psychological behavioural traits, which, he says, was “pretty enjoyable and helpful.”
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