Billions Star Exiting Series Ahead of Season 6 Premiere

Damian Lewis will not return for the upcoming sixth season of Billions, making the newly-aired season five finale his character's swan song. Details of that finale to follow, so if you haven't seen it yet, and plan to, this is your chance to leave. Lewis played Bobby Axelrod, who lost most of his fortune and control of his companies in season five, but who remains on the run in Switzerland, living comfortably out of the reach of the American legal system in spite of those setbacks. Axelrod's ending is a bit bittersweet, because while he took some heavy losses in the fifth season, he's still managed to stay ahead of the law, and will presumably be living out his days in relative comfort.

His character's final scene seemed somewhat open-ended, but while there is the possibility of a return at least in theory, the plan is for Lewis (and thus Axelrod) to be finished at this point. 

"What an incredible joy to spend five years working so closely with the great [Damian Lewis]," executive producer Chuck Koppelman said on social media after the episode aired. "[David Levien] and I are beyond grateful to you, Damian, for the work, of course, and the fellowship, and for all you sacrificed to come do this with us."

Lewis shot most of the sixth season remotely from the U.K. His wife, Harry Potter and Skyfall actress Helen McCrory, passed away just after the series resumed filming. Lewis told the New York Times that his decision to leave was not related to his wife's passing, but rather that he had signed on for five seasons at the start, and that by the time those five were over, he felt like the story of his character had been told.

"It's difficult to keep mining, creatively," Lewis told the paper. "We know who he is."

Over the course of those five seasons, Lewis managed to infuse the character of Axelrod with an energy that made him compelling, even though he was objectively a pretty terrible person at his core. 

"When I'm walking down the street in New York, it's: 'Axe, you the man!'" Lewis told the Times. "He's a really despicable human being, but no one seems to care."

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Showtime has not yet committed to a seventh season for Billions, but showrunners Koppelman and Levien seem bullish on the idea. The series also stars Paul Giamatti as Axelrod's prosecutor arch-rival, Cory Stoll as his business rival, and Watchmen's Malin Akerman.