Showtime drama’s fifth season lets actress reboot
Q: As Season 5 of “Billions” continues, how do you view your character — performance coach Wendy Rhoades — as she deals with her seemingly shattered marriage?
A: You see her giving herself the permission she gives others. She’s always encouraging other people to be their biggest and boldest selves, and to not think too much about the first instincts that come up about how to move yourself forward and get out of your own way.
She’s really processing what she preaches, and she’s constantly surrounded by these pugilistic men, so she certainly knows how to play that game as well. While she may not like to, she knows how to when she has to. Over the years, it’s been an interesting question how to evolve her in such a way that her strength is not always in support of these two dudes (her husband Chuck and her boss “Axe,” respectively played by Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis), so this is a real shift in the storytelling … allowing her to make decisions primarily for her own benefit.
Q: Alliances on “Billions” continually shift, and particularly this season, many of them really are out for themselves while appearing to be loyal to others. How difficult is that to portray?
A: (Co-creators, executive producers and frequent writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien) are generally pretty good about letting us know when the characters are engaged in a super-complex play, because they understand that will impact the subtlety of how we portray those moments of decision-making.
But I think that also, for audience members who are really keen (on what’s happening), they sometimes like to go back and make them think about the moments leading up to someone being double-crossed or betrayed. As the actor, you always need to know when you’re in the middle of those kinds of moves.
Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.