Bobby Axelrod’s story had been told, and that, Damian Lewis says, is why he parted ways with Showtime’s Billions after five seasons.
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In Sunday night’s Season 5 finale, Axe went on the lam in Switzerland to escape the legal reach of Paul Giamatti’s State Attorney General Chuck Rhoades. Said Axelrod to rival billionaire Mike Prince (played by Corey Stoll), who now owns all his companies: “So this is what it is to lose.”
The billionaire-driven Showtime series has already been renewed for a sixth season (to premiere Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022), in which Stoll’s Prince will take the lead as a new series regular.
Speaking with the New York Times, Lewis said that his five-season run as Axe was “easily the most time I’ve spent playing one character,” and as such, every permutation of Axe-versus-Chuck had been explored. “It’s difficult to keep mining, creatively,” the Homeland alum said. “We know who he is.”
Lewis told the Times that the April death of his wife, actress Helen McCory (Penny Dreadful), did not factor into this professional pivot. Rather, his Billions deal was always for five seasons and he “always just assumed that would be enough.”
That said, Lewis did shoot the bulk of his Season 5 scenes in London (sometimes with traveling co-stars), though he did return to the show’s New York home base to film part of his swan song. As series creator/showrunner Brian Koppelman told the Times, “We wouldn’t ask him to come to America [to film] in that situation — right after the love of his life passed away.”
Lewis said that for “obvious reasons” — “we had a sadness in our family” — he plans to stay put in London with his two teenage sons, for the foreseeable future. But given the nature of Axe’s sendoff, there is a slight chance the character could one day be seen again.
“There’s an opportunity maybe for me to return,” the English actor allowed. “But for now, broadly speaking, Axe has been vanquished.”
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