Before the new SHOWTIME® original series, Billions, premiered this past weekend, DIRECTV was on the scene at the world premiere, red carpet event in New York City. We caught up with some of the team responsible for bringing the series to television, The New York Times reporter and co-creator/executive producer Andrew Ross Sorkin, SHOWTIME® CEO David Nevins, and Neil Burger, who directed the first few episodes. We also captured some of the series’ stars in pictures, featured below.
What are you most excited about viewers seeing in the show that perhaps they’re not expecting?
Andrew Ross Sorkin (co-creator/executive producer): Two things. We all have these very preconceived notions of who the good guy is and who the bad guy is, and I think now having actually covered this world and spending time covering Wall Street, hedge funds, the Justice Department, it’s very grey. And really also sort of pulling back the curtain a little bit on what it is/what it means to have a billion dollars. What is that power about? There’s this whole great debate going on in this country about inequality and “The One Percent”, and I hope that we add a sort of three-dimensional view of all of that. And frankly, I hope that there are certain times as the viewer that they love Bobby, and at certain times they’ll turn on Bobby, and at certain times they’ll love Chuck, and certain times they’ll turn on him. And I hope they flip back and forth throughout.
Neil Burger (director, episodes 1-2): What I think is exciting is that these two characters—Paul Giamatti’s character and Damian Lewis’ character—they’re like these two predators who are circling each other constantly. These two sort of titans, these two very powerful guys who are on this collision course, and I think that the sparks will fly. The drama of it is very exciting. Plus it’s real, you know? It’s not stylized, it’s not The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s a different thing. It’s like really what these guys are like. Brian Koppelman and and David Levien, the writers of it, have really found the drama in that realness and it’s just a fascinating portrayal of two really powerful people.
David Nevins (Showtime President & CEO): You’ve got these two incredibly powerful characters, who are sort of going at it. These sort of heads of their own tribes, and we watch these tribes go at each other. So I think it’s got this great Shakespearean aspect to it. I also think it’s got a lot of delicious language. Great quotable lines. The writers of the show have a real ear for how guys talk. I expect the show to be quoted.
What did you find most challenging in bringing this story to life for television?
Andrew Ross Sorkin: Getting it here. This is sort of a long journey. I mean, we started thinking…I started playing with this back in 2010/11, got to meet with [co-creators] Brian [Koppelman] and David [Levien] in 2013, and now we’re at 2016, so it’s a heave. But we’re so thrilled to be here.
Neil Burger: For me as a director, the most challenging thing is that television is so much about the words, ya know? And I’m interested in the words, but it’s like, there are a lot of words in this show, and not a lot of room for visual storytelling. So it’s like, “How do we make that great? How do we make that visual even so?” And I think we did, but for me, as the director, that’s the challenge.
David Nevins: You just want to keep the energy going, you want to keep it good episode to episode, and building. I think they really succeed at that.