Season 5 Interview with Co-Creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien
by Sam Schube | GQ | May 3, 2020
If it seems like the verbal acrobatics on Billions could only have come from a kind of writerly mind-meld, that’s because they do. Co-creators and showrunners David Levien and Brian Koppelman met at 15, and have spent the intervening years precision-honing their blend of gee-whiz plotting (Ocean’s 13) and subculture deep-diving (Rounders). Billions, their turbocharged take on the Wall Street machers running the world and the law-and-order types trying to reel them in, represents the apotheosis of both. (The journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin is also credited as a creator.)
On the one side, Damian Lewis’s Bobby Axelrod, a made-it-from-nothing master of the universe with a taste for Metallica and cashmere hoodies. On the other: Paul Giamatti’s New York AG Chuck Rhoades, the rule-bending lawman with a taste—as made public last season—for BDSM. Orbiting them is a scenery-chewing bunch of character actors, joined this year by Julianna Margulies (a professor with a bestseller about the female orgasm), Frank Grillo (a he-man painter), and Corey Stoll (Mike Prince, a billionaire investor whose conscious capitalism rankles Axe). In other words: it’s all still extremely Billions.