Malin Akerman on the Return of 'Billions' & Her Love of the Hamptons

By J.P. Anderson | May 23, 2018 | People Feature

With breakout showtime hit Billions, comedy go-to Malin Akerman is getting in touch with her serious side—and loving every minute of it.

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Draped bustier gown, $4,990, cropped tuxedo jacket, $2,950, and crystal mesh pumps, $1,390, all by Tom Ford at Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field.

From her breakout as a ditsy ingenue in HBO cult favorite The Comeback to hilarious turns in 27 Dresses and Trophy Wife, the Swedish- Canadian actress has made a career out of playing the funny blonde. Lately, though, the fabulous 40-year-old has been showing her range, playing the villain in this spring’s action blockbuster Rampage and continuing her acclaimed run as tough-as-nails Lara Axelrod on Showtime’s Billions, with action regularly set in Southampton. With the show’s third season in full swing, Akerman opens up to Hamptons about finding balance, falling in love with the Hamptons and why Billions is connecting with audiences in such a big way.

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Pink sequin gown, $6,995, by Alberta Ferretti at Barneys New York; wool jacket, $5,050, by Chanel at Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset.

Had you spent much time in the area before Billions?
I’d never been to the Hamptons before—that was my first experience. And what a way to do it, because we got to film in an incredible mansion. It was absolutely lovely. And since then I’ve been to the Hamptons Film Festival, I went in for another event, I’ve gone for a friend’s birthday... so it’s now become a place I go, and I absolutely love it.

What do you enjoy about it?
It just feels like you take the stress [level] down about 10 notches. The beaches are gorgeous. Lovely restaurants. I was in Montauk quite a bit as well, which I thought was even more laidback. Every time I’ve gone I’ve stayed with friends in their homes, and the homes out there are beautiful; it’s a nice escape from the city to just travel three hours and be in this beautiful spot.

Growing up in Canada, were you an outdoorsy person?
Whenever we had summer vacation, we’d go camping—not glamping or anything like that—real-life camping on some of the lakes, like Georgian Bay. We’d feed chipmunks and go canoeing and cliff-diving. So I definitely am an outdoors girl, which is why I think the Hamptons have a big appeal to me—I love being on a beach by the water and just unplugging from everything.

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Black silk jacket, $2,595, silk mesh pants, $945, satin bra, $545, and silk panty, $345, all at Dolce & Gabbana, NYC; black suede pointed-toe mules, $675, by Gianvito Rossi at Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset.

Wellness is so important to Hamptonites. How do you stay healthy yourself?
I try to make sure I eat well and find balance, and get enough fresh food and produce. That’s so important. Someone once said, when you go to the grocery store, stay on the circumference of the store—don’t go in the middle aisles, because that’s where all the processed foods are. And that really is a great thing to live by. You can still eat all the things you like, a bit of cheese, a bit of chocolate, but just moderation and portion control and eating fresh stuff.

Billions is a huge success. Why do you think the show has connected with audiences?
I think people have always looked to the financial world here in the States—that delegates a lot of what happens around the rest of the world—and after 2008, people had a lot of questions, and people are curious [about] what the top 1 percent are really up to. What I find interesting about this show is that you don’t have a clear bad guy or clear good guy, which makes it human, because nobody is a clear good guy or bad guy in the world—we just make choices. I also think, to the credit of the writers, they’ve written a great show and keep up the suspense through every episode.

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Kahlo strapless top with layered chiffon ruffles, $945, by Cushnie et Ochs at Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field; ring, Akerman’s own.

How do you think the show speaks to the current cultural climate in terms of things like conscious wealth and a woman’s role next to a powerful male partner?
I think women appreciate the fact that the women in the show are portrayed as strong and independent. They don’t need their husbands—if anything, there’s such partnership between them and their husbands, and that’s more of a true depiction of what our world looks like nowadays. It’s not [necessarily] a stay-at-home mom anymore; it can be a stay-at-home dad. Most households have two incomes coming in and it’s a partnership. So there are lots of layers to why the show is of interest at the moment and speaks to a lot of people.

The #MeToo movement has such momentum right now, not only in Hollywood but across society. How do you feel about what’s happening?
It’s a tough climate for sure. Change is tough. But I think it’s incredibly positive. And you’re right, it’s not just Hollywood, and I hope people start to see that it’s across the board. It’s a fight that needs to be fought—for everyone to feel comfortable to speak the truth and not be shamed and not be put down for it, whether male or female. I think the message is clear and important; it’s a really interesting time, and I love that there’s so much support out there, and I’m curious to see where this is going to go. I think it’s going to be positive and beautiful. I am so proud of people for speaking up and speaking their truth, and not being afraid anymore, because nobody should live in fear.

People still talk about your breakout turn in The Comeback. What do you remember about that experience?
I was so naive back then, and so excited to get that job for so many reasons. Clearly at the top of my list was who I was working with: Lisa Kudrow, Michael Patrick King. It was an amazing group of people. And the writing was brilliant—I didn’t realize how brilliant it was until it went away, and I was reading other scripts and I was just like, ‘Really? This is it?’ [laughs] Wait a second— how is it possible that a brilliant show like The Comeback didn’t get to come back? I was so baffled by it. But I felt so lucky. To me [the role of Juna Millken] wasn’t far-fetched because I played a girl who was elated to be working with one of her idols, which was true to life—I mean, I was working with Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe on Friends. [I’m thinking,] ‘This is incredible—I’m working in Hollywood at Paramount Studios, and there’s so much history with that.’ And I had a paycheck. I didn’t have to live on a friend’s couch anymore! But most of all, the takeaway from that was then being able to get auditions for other things—doors were opening up for me as far as being able to audition for something. It really was my key into Hollywood.

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Tulle coat, price upon request, by Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh at Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset and off---white.com; Anne satin heels, $995, by Off- White C/O Jimmy Choo by Jimmy Choo at Hirshleifers, Americana Manhasset and jimmychoo.com.

What’s your dream project?
I’m mainly focused on working with a great director. I’m a huge Coen brothers fan—if I could work with those guys, I’d be done. That would be my be-all and end-all.

You’re known for donating time to organizations like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Opportunity International. Why is it important for you to give back?
That’s just part of humanity. [And] it’s not just helping, it helps you. A friend of mine has a leadership program in juvenile hall. She asked me to colead with her, and we went in thinking we were going to help these boys out because [they were] about to get out of juvenile hall, and the rate of recidivism is so massive that we were hoping to make a dent in that. [Ultimately though,] when you walk out of there, you feel like you’re the one who’s learned a lesson somehow—you feel awake and inspired and alive, and I think that when we get outside of ourselves, it’s just the way we should be. Especially if you have a platform and the possibility, and I do, [so] I don’t see why I wouldn’t. So many times I’ve been like, ‘I’m done. I’m not going to act; I’m going to move to Nicaragua and be part of Operation International and fund this school there and sit with the kids and make sure the school continues.’ That’s when you feel like you’re a part of real life—that’s when it feels like, ‘Yeah, this is the right space to be.’ I have a lucky, blessed life and some people don’t, and I’m happy to be able to help out any way I can.

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIGEL BARKER. STYLED BY PAUL FREDERICK

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