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Damian Lewis as Robert "Bobby" Axelrod: an ambitious billionaire manager of the hedge fund Axe Capital and a Hofstra University graduate who came from humble beginnings. He was one of his firm's survivors of the September 11 attacks, reforming it as Axe Capital and paying the college tuition of the children of his colleagues who died in the World Trade Center. He is extremely charitable and generous in public, but uses insider trading and bribery to grow his firm's enormous wealth. He has animal-like instincts that make him extremely successful in his trading career. The character is loosely based on Steven A. Cohen and his former hedge fund S.A.C. Capital Advisors.
Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades: a psychiatrist, in-house performance coach at Axe Capital and wife of Chuck Rhoades, Jr. She is self-possessed, motivated, and extremely successful. She has a strong relationship with Axelrod, her boss, with whom she has been working for more than 15 years. She participates with Chuck in various BDSM role play activities as Chuck is a sadomasochist.
Malin Åkerman as Lara Axelrod (starring season 1-3, guest season 4): ex-wife of Bobby Axelrod and a former nurse (who maintains her professional license). She is from a lower-class, blue-collar upbringing but has left her former self behind. She was devoted to her husband and their children. Her brother Dean was a firefighter who died during the 9/11 attacks. Lara disapproves of Axe's close relationship with Wendy.
Toby Leonard Moore as Bryan Connerty (starring season 1-4, guest season 5), the Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force for the Southern District of New York and Rhoades's point man at the start of the series; he later succeeds Rhoades as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York until he engages in illegal witness tampering, eventually spending time in prison for his crime. Chuck transfers him to a white-collar prison after making a deal with his brother.
David Costabile as Mike "Wags" Wagner: COO of Axe Capital and Axelrod's right-hand man. He is a known drug and sex addict and claims cocaine helps him focus on work.
Condola Rash?d as Kate Sacker: a former head of crime and Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, now attorney in Rhoades's office as Assistant to Attorney General of New York. She is biding her time until she has the opportunity to run for Congress. Her ultimate goal is to be President of the United States.
Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor Amber Mason (recurring season 2, starring season 3-present): a financial analyst at Axe Capital who becomes close to Axelrod, is appointed CIO of Axe Capital, and later forms Taylor Mason Capital, which is later forced back to Axe Capital as a subsidiary in-house fund under Axelrod's control.
Jeffrey DeMunn as Charles Rhoades, Sr. (recurring season 1-2, starring season 3-present): Chuck's father, a very wealthy and well-connected city/state power player who often uses his position to meddle in his son's affairs. He was abusive toward his ex-wife and frequently cheated on her. He had a child with, and then married, another woman.
Kelly AuCoin as "Dollar" Bill Stearn (recurring season 1-3, starring season 4-present): a portfolio manager at Axe Capital with such loyalty to Axelrod that he would risk incriminating himself to save him. He was described by AuCoin as "the cheapest millionaire in America." Dollar Bill frequently resorts to insider trading and other legally dubious measures to create high returns for Axe Capital.
Corey Stoll as Michael Thomas Aquinius Prince (recurring season 5; starring season 6) a business titan, grew up as small town Indiana farm boy, wants to give back to society. Prince attended New Castle High School where he was named Indiana Mr. Basketball as a senior.
Dan Soder as Dudley Mafee: an Axe Capital employee who joins Taylor Mason Capital as its first employee.
Stephen Kunken as Ari Spyros: a law school classmate and colleague at a private law firm of Chuck before his involvement in the public sector as an investigator for the SEC. In season 3, Spyros becomes head of compliance for Axe Capital.
Ben Shenkman as Ira Schirmer: an attorney and a former law school classmate of Chuck, as well as former CEO/Chairman of bankrupted Ice Juice.
Malachi Weir as Lonnie Watley (season 1-4): a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He later joins a private law firm after being passed over for Head of Crim in favor of Sacker.
Jerry O'Connell as Steven Birch (season 1-4): a rival of Axelrod's who leads a competing hedge fund.
Arthur J. Nascarella as Bruno Caparello (season 1-4): former aging owner of Axelrod's favorite pizza shop.
Seth Barrish as Dr. Gilbert: Donnie's doctor who becomes a key witness in the case against Axelrod.
Nathan Darrow as Mick Danzig (season 1-2, 4): an Axe Capital employee, whom Axelrod got out of an automatic weapons charge, who quit the firm for ethical reasons after it bankrupted the city of Sandicot, but was hired back out of spite against Taylor in Season 4.
Dennis Boutsikaris as Kenneth Malverne (season 1-3): a rival of Axelrod's who leads a competing hedge fund.
Scott Cohen as Pete Decker (season 1, 3, 5): Decker financial later runs gym group thanks to chuck getting him to agree to plea deal to prevent his parents going to jail for his illegal deals.
Deborah Rush as Ellen Rhoades (season 1, 3, 5): Chuck's mother and Sr's ex-wife as of season 5.
Christopher Paul Richards (season 1-2); Brian Beckerle (season 3) as Dean Axelrod.
Matt Servitto as Bob Sweeney (season 2-present): the New York Governor who was elected thanks to Chuck's influences
Allan Havey as Karl Allard (season 2-present): assistant ASUA of EDNY sent to SDNY as Chuck's owed favor follows Chuck to State Attorney's office in season 4.
David Strathairn as "Black" Jack Foley (season 2-4): a power player in the New York State political arena considered a king maker.
Chris Carfizzi as Rudy (season 2-4): a rookie trader at Axe Capital.
Eric Bogosian as Lawrence Boyd (season 2-3): CEO of investment bank Spartan Ives who gets Bobby Axelrod arrested in season 4 for his role in sabotaging the Ice Juice product launch and initial public offering.
Sarah Stiles as Bonnie Barella (season 3-present): a new trader at Axe Capital.
Clancy Brown as Waylon "Jock" Jeffcoat (season 3-4): Attorney General of the United States.
Harris Yulin as Judge Funt (season 3-4): owes Chuck a favor for keeping his son's medical career alive and not sending him to jail for misusing his prescription pad for his own drug addiction.
John Malkovich as Grigor Andolov (season 3-4): a Russian oil billionaire, who is shadier than Axe and ruthless criminal in Eastern Europe protected by various authoritarian governments.
Mike Birbiglia as Oscar Langstraat (seasons 3, 5): a disruptive impact venture capitalist who has a fling with Taylor Mason. He pulls his funds from Axe Capital in season 5 after Taylor Mason rejoins Axe Capital.
The series was ordered by Showtime in March 2015, and the first season premiered on January 17, 2016. On January 26, 2016, the series was renewed for the second season, which premiered on February 19, 2017. Showtime confirmed in April 2017 that Asia Kate Dillon, who is non-binary, would be a series regular in the third season.Billions is considered to be the first American TV series to have a non-binary character.
The first episode was made available on January 1, 2016, via video on demand services in the U.S. and via CraveTV in Canada. It premiered on Stan in Australia on January 27, 2016 and in Canada on The Movie Network on January 17, 2016, simultaneous with the American broadcast.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an overall approval rating of 88%, with a rating of 77% for season 1, 89% for season 2, 93% for season 3, 97% for season 4, and 86% for season 5.. The site's critical consensus for the first season reads: "Despite a lack of likable characters, Billions soapy melodrama and larger-than-life canvas offer plenty of repeat viewing potential." For season 2 it reads: "An influx of new characters and a fresh narrative twist give Billions an added boost during its thoroughly entertaining second season." The site's critical consensus for the third season states:"Anchored by the performances of Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, the third season of Billions continues a convincing fable of greed, power and competition." On Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season reads, "With tables turned and alliances formed, Billions fourth season goes full throttle with sharp dialogue, better rivalries, and bigger stakes." On Metacritic, the show has an overall score of 72. The first season has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews", while the second season has a score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 6 critics, also indicating "generally favorable reviews". Praise for the series has steadily grown over time--also on Metacritic, its third season scored a 77 out of 100, while its fourth currently holds a score of 87 out 100 based on reviews from 4 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The show's coverage of the hedge fund industry has been widely recognized as realistic.
In 2017, after introducing Taylor Mason (played by Asia Kate Dillon) in season 2,Billions became the first American TV series to have a non-binary character and actor. The series has received positive comments because of its representation of non-binary gender, with praise for its depiction of inclusion of non-binary pronouns in the workplace.