He wants to be left alone, but that won’t happen until he’s found a way to dispose of Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), the man who stands in his way and doesn’t believe he should be entitled to the freedom to operate in the markets that Axe believes he should enjoy.
Why do you think that Billions has been able to strike such a chord with the public?
We love watching stories about people who are so determined and obsessed with winning. People love to see driven characters functioning in situations where the stakes are very high. Axe and Chuck are borderline sociopaths who often act without any guilt no matter how their actions may affect others.
Winning is the most important thing to them, and especially to Axe. He’s already a billionaire. What interests him is the next deal and the adrenaline rush that comes with his next move.
It is very ironic that I’m playing these blue-collar Americans. But I love the directness of these American males who have a raw physicality about them. They don’t waste time. They don’t hesitate before taking action and going after what they want. I take a certain pleasure in being able to throw myself into the mindset of a man like Axe. You admire his passion and ruthlessness.
Many of your admirers love your ability to affect a great American accent. What’s your secret?
I would like to be able to say that it’s pure talent but in fact my mother’s brother moved to Darien, Connecticut when I was seven or eight and (my siblings and) I spent our summer vacations in Connecticut.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to work with so many outstanding actors and do such interesting work at what I think is a high level. I haven’t found the same level of excitement or quality of material in the movies I’ve done that I’ve been able to find in TV.