Condola Rashad has always been the secret assassin of 'Billions' (2023)

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The actress had a blast getting snippy with her BFF Paul Giamatti in Season 6.


Leanne Butkovic

Published on 04/11/2022 at 13:33

Condola Rashad has always been the secret assassin of 'Billions' (1)

Condola Rashad's Kate Sacker is an ace. OutSeason 1 of billions, back when she was the Assistant United States Attorney to Paul Giamatti's Chuck Rhodes, Kate's acumen was evident. She could trade barbs and deep-cut pop culture references with the best of them. She soaked up Chuck's struggles with the Billies, namely Damien Lewis' Bobby Axelrod, until they drove him out of townat the end of season 5. And then, as Chuck's mission against the moral sliminess of benevolent wealth, represented by Corey Stoll's Mike Prince, turned into a grinding crusadein season 6, she did what was unthinkable in the pastbillion-Verse: move to the private sector to manage Prince's legal counsel as he bid for New York to host the 2028 Olympics. toxic confrontations about who is in the moral right.

"Me and Paul had so much fun doing those scenes," Rashad said via Zoom last week of collaborating with Giamatti this season, particularly on the final two episodes "Succession" and "Cold Storage." "Everyone on set knows if me and Paul get called on the same day, there's going to be all laughter on set, just lots of shenanigans. We are troublemakers. It's been like this for six years. I'm literally the ride-or-die Paul Giamatti. He really is one of my best friends. I love him so much and that's why we just have so much fun."

Even ahead of Sunday night's finale — where Kate helped Prince give her former mentor an ankle-crushing move and bait him into a chicken game over crypto codes that landed him briefly in jail and cost Prince $3.5 billion — the backlash of fans on Kate's character Pivot this season was decidedly divided. People on Twitter (and Thrillist) are excited that she's finally started her own business. "It's funny, I get messages like, 'You betrayed Chuck. I can't watch it." I said, "Well,Idid nothing. I'm just playing the part,'" says Rashad, laughing. "Even when people meet me, they're always very, very shocked because they're like, 'Oh, you're not like [Kate]. You're kind of a jerk.' Actually, if there's any character I've ever played, she's the furthest from my personality."

Rashad is not wrong; On our video call, she's downright effervescent—"Sagittarius sisters!" we squeak when I tell her her birthday is the day before mine. It's undoubtedly a far cry from the stoic Kate Sacker, who maintains an unreadable poker face when the stakes are high, or counters a line she finds ridiculous with a perfectly hilarious side glance or eye roll. "Basically any thoughts I have, unless I'm actively not supposed to show what I'm thinking, I just let them be present, even for a second, and then let go and immediately cover them. says Rashad, who began her acting career in theater, racking up four Tony nominations between 2012 and 2018 and landing bit parts on shows likeThe good wife, before being cast onbillion. “[Television and theater are] the same energy, just channeled differently. That's definitely something I had to learn to channel in a certain way for the camera."

Condola Rashad has always been the secret assassin of 'Billions' (2)

BisbillionBeginning filming for Season 7 in the fall, Rashad reconnects with theater this summer in Italy, a country she is best known for since her first visit as a child with her mother, actress Phylicia Rashad , felt a deep connection for playing Claire Huxtable. "Even as a 9-year-old I felt like, 'I know I'm not from here, but am I from here?'" says Rashad from an apartment in Milan. “I hadn't seen any of the cult films. I had no preconceived notions. It had something to do with the earth and the land itself. It was like a memory of me. And even about the language, I asked myself, 'Do I understand what you're saying?'” Nowadays, she actually understands what they're saying: she is almost fluent in Italian and uses her special skills to become an 'ambassador for harmonious intercultural relations' abroad being and collaborating with other artists outside of their comfort zone.

"To me, being an artist means not just going where it's strongest, or where you get the most attention, or whatever," says Rashad. "It's all right, nothing against it. However, the heart of it for me, especially in this day and age, is that it's really more about connecting. In my opinion, I can actually give something back to us, to our society as a global environment.”

But back tobillion. Now that Season 6 has hit the reset button again, with Chuck searching for blood on a special ops mission at the behest of his successor, Sakina Jaffrey's Daevisha Mahar, and Prince about to launch his campaign for President of the United States, Kate finds herself himself in an opportunistic but precarious place. She'd spent the season exploring the reality of her own political ambitions and unearthed some smut about her politician father, who rescued her from trouble in college and failed for the first time in her life in front of her new allies in Prince, Wags (David Costabile) and Scooter (Daniel Breaker) no less, who all scoffed when she tried to step down.

"What does it mean for someone who's held to a certain standard and has met it all along, so literally doesn't know how to calculate error?" says Rashad. "I mean, she's not a robot, but essentially she is at this moment. For example, my wires aren't able to calculate what's happening, so this is the part where I'm going to walk away now, because I don't know what's happening. She was raised by people who love her, but the way that translated was like, "We're going to teach you how to be a cutthroat queen on a chessboard." That's how she knows how to get by moves space. In terms of making it come back, it was just allowing that sense of failure to be what essentially rekindled them.”

Condola Rashad has always been the secret assassin of 'Billions' (3)

While in the private sector, Kate has given Rashad the opportunity to play in a new type of sandbox and get scenes with Wendy (Maggie Siff),Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), and other characters from Mike Prince Capital, she misses being a regular scene partner with Giamatti. "Honestly, I'd say the only downside [to this season] is that I haven't been able to play as much with Paul, so apart from missing Paul, I've had so much fun coming into this season. Much like the two worlds portrayed on camera, it's a completely different experience behind the scenes."

When I ask what she wishes for Kate, I put some of my own hopes out there: Will she ride Prince's coattails and then munch on the men around her when she sees her opening? "I think that sounds like what I would expect from her," agrees Rashad. "[Prince has] actually given her space to do what she's doing, where she didn't really have that before. And even the setback of learning about her past at school and how that set her back a bit - I don't think that's going to be something that's going to completely derail her. I think it's just a matter of being more strategic and staying in a place where she can actually recover and regroup. It's either that or she just finds a way to jump on everyone and do her own thing."

But if there's something she's more excited about, it's fighting Giamatti. "Honestly, sometimes we would shoot a scene and literally start laughing because she was so bitchy. We were like, "Yeah, we're having a total love fight right now." At one point, everyone was like, "Guys, get a room." I hope there's more of this," adds Rashad. "It's so much fun to be snippy with Paul Giamatti."

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Leanne Butkovicis senior entertainment editor at Thrillist on Twitter@leanbutk.

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