Paul Giamatti on "Dominance and Submission" in 'Billions'

The actor calls the opening scene of 'Billions' in which a dominatrix urinates on him a "great metaphor for the whole show."

The "dominance-and-submission thing is a big thing in the whole show," Paul Giamatti told The Hollywood Reporter during the Drama Actor Emmy Roundtable regarding his new Showtime series, Billions.

The roundtable discussion focused on the difference between playing a real-life character and a fictional one. Giamatti, who won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of John Adams in the miniseries of the same name, told THR how much he enjoys playing historical characters.

"A certain amount of it is kind of really circumscribed," said Giamatti, "and then you have a lot of freedom, and then in some ways, that kind of confinement of 'I gotta look like this and talk like this' frees you up in a funny way too, so it's interesting. But I also love the idea of inhabiting a real person, a historical character. It's an exciting kind of story to step into to."

Giamatti went on to say how much he enjoys being surprised by his career and not knowing what project he is going to be led to next. "My agent would say they never know how I'm going to react," said Giamatti, "because I never know how I'm going to react. Part of what I enjoy about this is not knowing what's going to happen with me next, or what I'm going to get next, or what's going to suddenly be interesting to me."

More roundtables featuring comedy actors and actresses, drama actresses, comedy and drama showrunners, and reality hosts and producers will roll out in June online an in print. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on SundanceTV, with the premiere of the Drama Actors Roundtable on Sunday, July 4. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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