As their characters prepare to go into battle in the fourth season of Billions (watch the trailer below), Damian Lewis and Asia Kate Dillon discuss the hit financial drama.
DAMIAN LEWIS: “There’s no-one more competitive than Bobby”
The third season finale of Billions was a complete game-changer. Previous enemies hedge-fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and US attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), whose animosity had driven the show up until that point, formed an alliance of mutual benefit.
At the same time, Axe’s former mentee Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), who he’d previously left in charge of his business, set up their own firm and won a lucrative deal from under his nose. In Season 4 (on Stan from Mon., Mar. 18), the scene is set for some explosive showdowns as Axe, in particular, looks to settle the score.
“There’s no-one more competitive than Bobby and we see what he’s prepared to do to in order to get what he wants,” says Lewis, 48. “The compulsion to go on and make a billion rather than just have a successful company that does well, that’s very different. To keep going and amass that kind of wealth shows a highly competitive nature, and we examine that in Billions.”
Like Chuck before them, Taylor is proving to be a major stumbling block standing in Axe’s way – something Lewis is thrilled about.
“It’s become an even more interesting show,” he says. “With Bobby, I think it’s fun just to see … you know, you want to see Muhammad Ali take a few punches and then watch him come back. That’s more interesting drama, I think. Bobby is an alley cat; he’s a blue collar scrapper and that’s part of what makes him charming as well. He lives on his wits. He’s not an Ivy League privileged, educated guy. He’s a guy who has made it on his own, but he’s a brawler.”
Besides the thrill of seeing these characters go up against each other, Lewis enjoys the fact that Billions shows “there is moral consequence for what you do. I can’t tell you where it’s going to end up in Season 5 or 6, or however long we go for, but there are consequences on the human beings perpetrating all these acts, and I hope there will be punishment and retribution of some kind.”
ASIA KATE DILLON: “The singular pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ feel right for me”
I am a huge fan of the show,” says 34-year-old, non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon, who plays analyst Taylor Mason. “I know I am on the show, but I think it is holding up a very important mirror at a time when politics is so infused with the evidence of absolute power corrupting absolutely.
“You have Billions dealing with this exact thing – people who believe they are following a moral or ethical path or know they aren’t, and how an audience is able to identify with Axe and then identify with Chuck, and the way it pulls us back and forth between those two seemingly polarised characters, only to have us discover they are much more similar than we ever thought.”
Another thing the series has done is depict the first non-binary character in a regular role in an American TV series.
“I identify as gender non-binary. That means I experience my gender identity as falling somewhere outside the traditional boxes of man or woman,” Dillon explains. “The singular pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ feel right for me. I had no conversations about my gender identity prior to being cast. One, ‘cause that would have been illegal for them to ask, and two, because I didn’t want to get the role for that reason, I wanted to get the part because they felt I was the best actor for the role.”
Since joining the show in Season 2 then becoming part of the main cast, Dillon’s character has become a central player in Billions, with Taylor’s betrayal
of Axe setting the stage for an entirely new dynamic this season. Taylor’s pivotal role has also helped start a conversation about non-binary people, with the series being very real about showing the time it may take others to understand them.
“That is one of the things I love about Billions – that it isn’t afraid to be really real about the ways in which we are all learning and growing.”