Billions is the latest top US drama on NOW TV, but where else have you seen its two lead actors? Here are Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti's finest turns...
Did you catch the opening episode of Billions on NOW TV Entertainment? If you missed it, Billions is a brand new drama created by the writers of Ocean’s 13 and Rounders, focussing on the cat and mouse tale of a US Attorney chasing down a dodgy hedge fund manager.
Billions leans heavily on its two lead stars, Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, as rivals honing in on one another, but where have we seen these famous faces before? Both have CVs full of critically acclaimed titles, but you needn’t go routing through IMDB to find out what they are – we’ve done that for you…
Damian Lewis plays Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in Billions, the sole survivor of a lucrative hedge fund following the attacks on 9/11. But with bribery and insider trading as his weapons of choice, it’s not long before he attracts the attentions of Paul Giamatti’s US Attorney. Lewis has a wealth of top TV roles to his name, and is capable of playing good guys and bad guys with equal aplomb. Here are some of his finest hours:
Band of Brothers
Richard ‘Dick’ Winters is, without doubt, one the all-time greatest TV gents. Lewis plays the ever-likeable Winters in Spielberg’s masterful WWII drama Band of Brothers as he rises quickly through the ranks amidst a formidable mission in Nazi occupied Europe.
Although it was cancelled after only two seasons, Life, about a detective re-entering the world following a wrongfully-doled out 12 year prison sentence, has plenty of firm fans and a strong narrative arc. David Bianculli of the New York Daily News says of Lewis that he “is commanding, and draws your attention without saying a word.”
Homeland | Watch on Netflix
Arguably, Homeland – which counts Obama among its fans – was the series that launched Lewis into household name status. His role as Nicholas Brody, the suspected terrorist freed from captivity as an al-Qaeda prisoner, provided one of the most suspenseful performances in recent years.
In this highly fictionalised, highly sexed-up retelling of Oliver Cromwell’s rise to power, Lewis plays one of the most visually appealing Henry VIII you’ve ever seen. It’s currently sitting pretty with a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Once worried he would be forever typecast with roles as “ambivalent, spiky, weird, unpleasant people,” Giamatti is one of those malleable ‘that guy’ actors who’s been in more movies than you can shake a stick at, often with exceptional performances when he’s allowed room to breathe. In Billions he plays oddball US Attorney Charles “Chuck” Rhoades Jr., but you may well recognise him from…
Undoubtedly Giamatti’s breakout role, Sideways plays out like a feature-length US version of Peep Show, with its two totally unlikeable characters drinking their way around wine country. It’s hilariously written and wryly sentimental at the same time.
It may have been overshadowed by Christopher Nolan’s similar magic movie The Prestige (released the same year), but The Illusionist is an equally intriguing tale well worth tracking down. Giamatti plays Inspector Uhl, whose life is embroiled with magician Eisenheim’s romantic scheme of deceit.
Saving Mr Banks | Watch on Netflix
The lovingly told behind-the-scenes story of how Walt Disney won over Mary Poppins writer P.L. Travers in order to attain the film rights. Giamatti plays Travers’ warm-hearted driver, who teaches her some invaluable humility.
Straight Outta Compton
A taut and well-performed biopic of seminal rap group N.W.A, Giamatti puts in a strong turn as the group’s ambitious manager Jerry Heller. SOC also features a spookily accurate portrayal of Ice Cube by Ice’s real life son O’Shea Jackson Jr.
More top TV… Are you up to speed with Game of Thrones? Here’s everything that happened prior to season six. You can find out how to get NOW TV Entertainment at no extra cost right here.