The set designers had refreshed the walls with would-be Basquiats and reimagined a dated atrium as a sort of gangway that led to Axelrod’s terrifyingly spare office.The trading floor suggested the presence of a finicky overlord—even the staplers were white. Bruised bananas languished on desks, suggesting a certain meanness amid the plenty.Another was the financial journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. He wanted to know what made a hedge-fund manager more than “a paper shuffler.”The hedge-fund manager said that he and his peers basically function as market-based regulators—that they have a financial incentive to expose wrongdoing. In “Billions,” which premières on Showtime this week, he plays Bobby (Axe) Axelrod, a knockaround guy—Yonkers native, Hofstra grad—who scraps his way up from golf caddie to hedge-fund eminence: library benefactor, wearer of cashmere hoodies, keynote speaker at the Delivering Alpha conference.The third man, in from London, was the actor Damian Lewis. The hedge-fund manager and Lewis were doing most of the talking. Sorkin had set up other audiences for Lewis with financial machers. (Sorkin created the show with Brian Koppelman and David Levien, whose other credits include “Rounders” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”) Lewis was born in London in 1971.
Axelrod was beginning to question the ruthless behavior that has enabled his success.Three men in suits were drinking red wine and eating pasta that cost thirty-four dollars a serving.One of them was a hedge-fund manager, a famous short seller.He kept up the banter and thus—on a bone-cold night—his collaborators’ morale.
He chatted with the wardrobe assistants (“You have on a peacoat, almost a pea ”); he broke into song (Madonna’s “Holiday”; the Welsh national anthem).
There were Post-it Notes on computer terminals: “I’m horny”; “Remember to throw up after this”; “Big hands smell like beef.”Outside, Lewis and Maggie Siff, who plays the U. Attorney’s wife—she is also Axe Capital’s in-house psychiatrist—were marking out the evening’s first scene.