The star of ‘Billions’ says hedge fund managers have one trait in common

Damian Lewis as Bobby Axelrod.

Before filming Showtime’s new drama “Billions,” actor Damian Lewis met with hedge fund managers to help him prepare for his role as Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund titan he plays in the series.

While Axelrod is just a fictional character, he draws on real-life experiences. Lewis said there was one key characteristic hedge fund managers had: they’re good listeners.

From The New Yorker:

“I found the hedge-fund guys I met all to be very, very concentrated listeners – watchful and articulate and quick to defend, if needed,” Lewis recalled. “They all seemed to have this contained sitting posture. The legs, if they weren’t crossed at right angles, tended to be close over the knee, their hands put together.” In trying to “unlock” a character, he often zeroes in on a single fine-grained physical attribute. (“Perhaps stealing a bit from Laurence Olivier, who said, ‘Always start with the shoes.'”)

“Billions” is a show that centers on two powerful characters – hedge fund king Axelrod, the CEO of Axe Capital, and hard-charging US attorney Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti).

The show was written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and New York Times editor/CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin. It debuts on Showtime on Sunday.

Here’s the trailer: