Playing an Anti-Hero on Mega Money Drama Series Billions has Polarized Fans but Damian Loved the Chance to Turn Bad
by Michele Manelis | News Corp Australia Network | June 16, 2018
Damian Lewis can plot the impact of his lead role on hit US drama series, Billions from one season – and continent – to the next.
“When I’m in New York and I walk around, people go, ‘Yeah, Bobby Axelrod, yeah, love you man!’, and when I’m in England, where I live, people go, ‘Oh, Bobby Axelrod, you’re a real arsehole!’” he tells TV Guide.
After wrapping season three, the former Homeland star adds, laughing “I think you’ll find that everyone’s an a-hole.”
Playing the anti-hero appeals to the 47-year-old British favourite.
“Whether you’re Don Draper, Walter White or, dare I say it, Nicholas Brody [his Homeland character] or Bobby Axelrod, for these guys who have dark nights of the soul and whose souls and hearts and very beings are compromised by the situations they’re in, what’s interesting is that the message from the viewer seems to be that if you go after something with enough passion, then we love you for it and you can cross any number of lines.”
Preparing for his Billions gig, Lewis says: “I met a whole bunch of billionaires and that was interesting in itself. I continue to be astounded by their competitive natures. The game is everything to them.”
“From everyone I met with, they all had something in common – they were all very, very keen listeners. It’s not the Gordon Gekko [Michael Douglas’ Wall Street character without a conscience] years or anything like Wolf of Wall Street where it’s about coke and hookers. These guys are in a scientific analytical world. They don’t take bets unless they’re 90 per cent sure they’re going to win.”
The latest season borrowed themes straight from the news headlines, from Wall St to Washington, Lewis says, describing it as “a very Trump-ian show in the way that people behave and the way they manoeuvre themselves.”
So has the world of high finance rubbed off on how Lewis spends his own money?
“Well, I have a very nice sound system in my house which I spent a load of money on. My wife [actor Helen McCrory] complains and says it makes her feel like she’s in a hotel because the same song comes up in three different rooms [but] I quite like that.”
He’s also “just bought a very nice house in the [English] countryside as a second home, so those are my extravagances for now. Am I one of these guys who obsessively collects antique typewriters that cost me $10,000 each to buy?
No. I’l leave that to Tom Hanks,” he laughs.
“I do have a very expensive ping pong paddle, but that didn’t cost me $10,000,” he explains. “That’s not me.”
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