Showtime’s new hit series, Billions, pits U.S Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) against Axe Capital’s billionaire big shot, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). However, at 81-0 in financial crime cases, Chuck isn’t looking to compromise his record at the cost of dethroning Axe.
While Chuck bides his time for Bobby to slip up, the latter continues living a lavish life that most people could only dream of. As one of cable TV’s most complex characters, there’s more to the Axe man than meets the eye.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
He’s Epitomizes the Definition of an Alpha Male
An alpha male is defined as “a man tending to assume a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations,” according to Oxford Dictionaries. Those that watch Billions, are fully aware that this very definition epitomizes Axe. Whether its the management of billions of dollars flowing through Axe Capital’s doors or his advisement on/involvement in company boards, the man is taken very seriously when he speaks; a true testament to his leadership skills.
In the words of ZZ Top, “Every girl is crazy bout a sharp dressed man.” While Axe is already taken, he’s always someone that dresses to impress; business, casual, or even jeans and a t-shirt with his favorite band, Metallica, on it. To the core, Axe stays true to himself, even if it means passing up the lobster and caviar to meet someone notable for a slice of pizza at his favorite pizzeria growing up.
Lastly, a true alpha knows how to work a room. Bobby turns heads and gets that type of attention every time he enters a new space. After all, to make big the decisions — ones that are worth several millions on the regular — the way Axe does, one needs to have a strong presence.
2. The Hedge Fund Boss Cannot Be Crossed
When someone says “Don’t cross the boss” in New York, most people assume they’re referring to late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. In this instance, it’s Bobby Axelrod. Axe worked hard to get to where he’s at and even harder to protect himself from every possible situation that could have him implicated by Chuck. Hence, the man doesn’t reveal all his cards but he definitely plays them. As viewers have witnessed, when someone tries messing with Bobby’s livelihood, he always finds a way to get back at them tenfold and wear a smile while doing so.
Case in point: Axe — as payback to Chuck for hunting him — was able to coerce YumTime’s board of directors to oust Chuck Sr’s (Jeffrey DeMunn) mistress, Evelyn Benson (Kate Jennings Grant). In her place, the board voted Bobby in. Adding more insult to injury, Axe also got the board to remove third generation CEO Hutch Bailey III (Jeremy Bobb), who’s been flying around the country on his private yet while the company saves on sugar costs by using corn syrup.
With so many big fish to fry, Bobby also has no qualms about picking and choosing his battles. As evidenced in episode three, his wife Lara can duke it out for the Axelrods on her own. When 9/11 widower June Rachlein (Melissa Errico) tried having her memoir, 9/12: The Day After — published with reputation-damaging info on the Axelrods — she quickly nipped that in the bud. Lara — unofficially speaking — got June’s name lifted from her Barre class, her country club tee time session given away, and her son’s Stanford legacy admission denied. Ultimately, June — after freaking out by herself — went to Lara’s residence to let her know that she had removed the potentially defaming chapter. As luck would have it, her son instantly got back into Stanford’s good graces. These are just a few of the many circumstances that prove that going up against Axelrod is like a career and reputation death sentence.
3. He’s Got All The Trappings of Success
Greater responsibilities aside, Axe’s power also comes with a slew of perks. Not only did he pay cash for his $63 million Southampton mansion, he also had the historical Smithsonian — named the Ellis Eads Hall in the show — changed to his name. Although Bobby’s corrupt at his roots, he genuinely cares about his family’s health, which is why the Axelrods have a personal chef.
When it comes to means of transportation, there’s no shortage for Axe. If Bobby finds himself needing to take an impromptu trip, all he has to do is hop in his personal helicopter or private jet. For those rare occasions when he’s not spear-heading operations over at Axe Capital? He has the option — at least in the summer months — of taking his speed boat (shown above) out for a ride.
4. He Has a Wife, Two Kids & Is Known for Being Kind and Generous
Much like his wife Lara Axelrod (Malin Akerman), Bobby comes from humble beginnings that are far from Ivy League-caliber. While Bobby grew up in Yonkers and comes from blue collar roots, he’s damn proud of the “fuck you money” that he’s made. In the public eye, he’s seen as both generous and giving. The events around 9/11 hold a special place in his heart, especially since he was the only survivor of the hedge fund he worked at during the September 11 attacks. Bobby — as a token of his heart — pays for the college tuition of all the children of his late co-workers.
5. It’s Damian Lewis’s Second Big Showtime Role
While some would argue that Damian Lewis’ performance as Axe in Billions gives Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance in The Wolf of Wall Street a run for its money, the English-born actor starred in another Showtime hit, Homeland. From 2011 to 2014, Lewis, 44, donned the role of Nick Brody, a former US Marine Corps Scout Sniper that was held captive for eight years. Brody was suspected of being a terrorist that betrayed his country. The character was known for walking the grey area between good and evil.
Homeland is slated to return for season 6 to Showtime in September with all-new episodes.