Corey Stoll’s stock rises in season six of this Wall Street drama—as the actor goes from guest star to leading man
Showtime’s hit financial drama marked the end of season five with the exit of co-leading man Damian Lewis, as hedge-fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, who evaded federal attorney Chuck Rhoades’ (Paul Giamatti) prosecution by relocating to Europe. His former firm was bought by financial rival Michael Prince (Corey Stoll, now elevated from guest star to series regular), who started setting the ground rules for the new order of things amongst his various employees and enemies as Billions premiered last Sunday night.
“It was a unique experience,” Stoll reflects. “We had to take a year off because of COVID, then we went straight into season six before we’d even finished filming season five. It was a real challenge to turn this antagonist into a protagonist, but after defeating this character [Axe] that the audience knew so well—and loved, or loved to hate—we focus the story on Prince. And that created a whole new dynamic in how to play him.”
Crave1Among those on whom Prince’s new role has immediate impacts are Chuck’s estranged performance-coach wife Wendy (Maggie Siff), Axe’s ex-aide Wags (David Costabile) and business whiz Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon). “The first new episode [written by series co-creators and exec producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien] is very much about Prince going around to everybody and trying to define what those relationships are going to be,” Stoll confirms. “And other people have their own ideas about that.”
Stoll reveals he knew when he was hired for Billions that he eventually would succeed Lewis as a series co-lead alongside Giamatti... but with the COVID-caused production delay, he had to keep that secret for longer than expected. “I felt a certain power, knowing where I was headed,” Stoll allows. “I really did want to tell people, and I felt very relieved when the season-five finale finally aired. It’s certainly helpful for me to be able to be up-front now about who I am on the show.”
Crave1Also heard occasionally as a narrator of such programs as PBS’s American Experience, Stoll is an alum of such series as House of Cards and The Strain, and has been enjoying an active movie career as well, with Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story being one of the latest examples. Since he delights in bringing fresh aspects to his projects, Stoll appreciates Billions letting him explore potentially positive aspects of wealth, which the show has treated as a weapon so often.
“The question, this season and hopefully going forward, is whether there is such a thing as a good billionaire,” Stoll notes. “Is it possible to amass that much and still be a force for good in the world? And that’s an open question.”
Billions airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Crave1