Condola Rashad Talks Season Two of Billions
When Billions premiered last year, we were instantly captivated by the dark drama revolving around money, politics, and—most importantly—power. The New York City-set Showtime series is smart and quick as it details the power struggle between U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti) and hedge fund tycoon Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis), and we didn’t feel quite ready for a break yet when the first twelve episodes wrapped up last April. But in the end, we made it through nine long Billions-free months. And lucky for us, the series returns this Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10p.m. ET.
So what can we look forward to seeing in the all-new episodes? Well for one thing, we can count on the show to pack just as many—if not more—twists, according to Condola Rashad, who plays no-nonsense Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Sacker. “Season two just plunges even deeper into this world,” Rashad recently told InStyle. “Season one was the time where we really introduced the characters and set them up, and you’ll get a more in-depth look at them in the new episodes. It's not just Bobby Axelrod versus Chuck Rhoades anymore—it’s more about how they’re going to go around each other now. There’s less in-your-face drama and more sneaky little moves, and the cat-and-mouse game is getting more intricate.”
For more on season two of Billions and Rashad—including the best career advice that her mom, The Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad, has ever given her—scroll down for our full interview with the star.
Other than the Axelrod-Rhoades struggle for power, what can we expect to go down in season two?
You’ll see more of the personal relationships between Chuck Rhoades and his wife and between Axelrod and his wife. You learn what's really going on behind closed doors, which is exciting. Then in terms of the dynamic within the US Attorney’s office, there are some shifts that Chuck has found within himself, and that starts to reflect in the way that he runs the office. There’s more competition between Kate, Connerty, and their co-worker Lonnie, which we didn’t have much of last year. They each have their own little agenda now, and you see how every character in the office handles being on the same team while also trying to get ahead and putting themselves first. Because if somebody gets promoted, you want to make sure you’re on their good side.
Your character, Kate, and Toby Leonard Moore’s character, Bryan Connerty, blurred the line between personal and professional in last season. What’s your take on their office romance?
I get it because things really do happen—especially when you're in close quarters like that. I think what's really good for the story is having that happen in season one really gives us grounds to figure out how to go about it in season two. And because it's happened, no matter what you direction you take there's history there. So whether we go deeper into it or come out of it, either way, it adds to the tension.
Kate is a total girl boss. What's your favorite thing about playing her?
I love that our personalities are very different because she’s so business-minded and I’m not. Honestly, before Billions, I had never worn a suit in my life. I'm not kidding—I’d actually never had a reason to wear one before, and it really opened my eyes to a whole new world. But what's really fun about Kate is there's this very fine line with her where if you're not looking carefully, you might pass judgment. But if you look a little harder, you notice this woman is a total boss and actually believes in what she does. She comes from money and is probably the richest woman in the office, but she doesn't wear it on her sleeve and she’s not apologetic about it, either. She's definitely not going to do anything just for the money because she already has it. So you get to see what it is that she really wants to do because she has no other agenda other than really loving what she does and her belief in serving justice, which you’ll see more of this season.
Things in the office tend to get a bit murky in terms of what’s ethical. Does Kate always manage to stay above the law?
She’s all about justice, but sometimes she may suggest handling a situation in a way that’s not exactly rosy, as long as it will get everybody what they need in the end. Her intentions are pure, but she’s not necessarily above going through the mud to get there. It's a weird contradiction because she might do something sneaky to get justice in the long haul—and that’s a personality trait that Chuck Rhoades also has, so they have that in common. You’ll see their relationship develop this season, and there are a lot of similarities between the two of them—unlike Connerty. He had to pull himself up by the bootstraps and get to the table, but both Chuck and Kate were born at the table. You’ll watch them navigate what that means for them personally and professionally.
Speaking of Chuck Rhoades, what's it like to have Paul Giamatti play your boss?
Oh my god. Paul Giamatti—and I'm not just saying this—but he may actually be one of my favorite people on the planet. He’s one of the most amazing actors to work with. He's so good that sometimes we forget we're in a scene and can’t remember a line because we're just so busy watching Paul Giamatti do the amazing thing that he does. It's great to learn from him as an actor, but he’s just one of the most genuine, down to earth people. He’s hysterical in real life, and we're constantly laughing until our sides ache on set—even when he's not trying to be funny, he is. He is a true light.
We haven’t seen much interaction between the Rhoades and Axelrod worlds yet. Do you think we’ll ever see them collide down the road?
For sure. I think it's starting to happen a little bit more this season—not so much with Kate yet, but the lines between the worlds are getting a little blurred. It's going to get messy and come to a head. It has to.
If you weren’t on the show and watched it for the first time, unbiased, who do you think you'd be rooting for: Bobby Axelrod or Chuck Rhoades?
Totally Chuck Rhoades! Although, my favorite response to give for that question is, “I’m Team Sacher, actually.” So let's get that together. I'm Team Kate Sacher.
When you first signed on the for role, did your TV veteran mom give you any advice?
In terms of acting, I think my mom's always just said, "Find the truth." That's all it really is with acting. It's weird—we’re playing different characters, so there's this level where we’re really playing. But in order to bring the character to life, all you have to do is find their truth. It's very simple, but it’s not always easy. Other than that, my mother has really just given me advice for life which is to remain true to who I am no matter what I do. She’s a very grounded person despite being in the spotlight for so long, and she just taught me to have to have a firm sense of who I am. People have opinions, but as long as you're doing what it is that you want to do and it moves you and makes you happy, that's really the most important thing.