“I just saw the trailer for [Part 2] on YouTube, and holy hell, did Paul Giamatti lose a ton of weight. He was almost unrecognizable,” one fan wrote on Reddit.
Paul had months to lose the weight after the ‘Billions’ production shut down in 2020.
In April 2020, Variety reported that Billions had shut down production on Season 5 and that Showtime was planning to air a partial season. The first part of the season premiered that May and ended that July after seven episodes.
And production had not yet resumed by October 2020, when Showtime renewed the show for a sixth season. At the time, Deadline speculated that the cast and crew would start filming Season 6 immediately after the remaining episodes of Season 5.
Now, more than a year after Season 5 went on hiatus, a Reddit user commented that it was “jarring” to see Paul — who plays New York Attorney General Chuck Rhoades Jr. — looking so different.
“He lost a bit of weight, shaved off the beard (after a lot of years), lost a bit of hair (right at the top of the head), and his hair is now all white,” that viewer observed. “All those changes in his appearance, which almost all of us are seeing at once for the first time in over a year, make for a huge impact.”
Paul’s co-star David Costabile, who plays Mike “Wags” Wagner on the show, told Extra in July that he had “no idea” how Paul dropped the pounds.
“Maybe he just fasted the entire pandemic,” David quipped. “I decided to keep the beard and add weight. I added all of Paul’s weight. That’s a lifestyle choice.”
Showtime’s boss said viewers can jump right back in to the show’s fifth season.
Gary Levine, Showtime Networks’ president of entertainment, told reporters of the Television Critics Association last month that Season 5’s unexpected break won’t affect its narrative arc.
“We did make a few adjustments in shooting the last five episodes post-pandemic to allow for shooting in a pandemic,” he said. “Story-wise, we stayed true to the original plan. Having seen those five episodes, they come back just shot out of a cannon, and you are immediately thrown back into the story — no need to review the earlier episodes.”
(Of course, if you do need a recap of Part 1, the Showtime website has you covered.)
Levine also confirmed that the cast and crew did indeed film the last five episodes of Season 5 back-to-back with Season 6, which will premiere this January. “We felt guilty for the audience to have to wait as long as they did to see the rest of Season 5, so we and the rest of the producers just put our heads down and said, ‘Just plow ahead,’” he explained.
Billions Season 5 returns tonight, Sunday, Sept. 5, at 9 p.m. ET.