By CHELSEA HUANG
Malin Akerman may play a fierce, direct and totally unapologetic wife of a hedge fund "king" who takes crap from no one -- including her disobedient dog -- on her new Showtime series, "Billions,", but in real life, her approach to finance is a bit more zen.
The best piece of financial advice she's ever received, she divulged to AOL, "is sort of like a karmic way of looking at finance."
"Empty your pockets in order to fill them again. Instead of holding onto things too tightly, I think it's more like enjoy life, and spend it and spend it wisely, but you have to give to get back," she said.
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Despite the fact that Akerman, 37, is "not even close to" her character, Lara Axelrod, in terms of toughness and bite (she's more of a "kill 'em with kindness" kind of gal), the actress admits there are some parallels between the cold billionaire and herself.
"Coming from modest means and building a life for herself I could say is quite similar to where I come from and what I've done with my life," she said. "I think Lara's goals and dreams are very different than mine, but it's the same kind of trajectory, same kind of path in life, where you work hard, you're a survivor, you're a chameleon, you're a shape-shifter."
But there's one situation in which Akerman might pull out her inner Axelrod.
"The only time I would bite is if you were to mess with my family or my child. If someone messes with my son, they're dead."
The role of mother is one Akerman takes very seriously, and the star revealed to AOL in September that having a kid has made her a "big mama bear," especially when it comes to shielding her son, Sebastian, who is almost 3 years old, from the paparazzi.
"We should be the ones who decide if we want to have their face be public or not, and they're too young to make that choice," she said at the time. "I think it's kind of grotesque. It's not something that I appreciate at all."
Becoming a "mama bear" wasn't the only thing that changed when she had a child. Akerman, who is best known for her comedic roles in films like "27 Dresses," "Couples Retreat" and "Wanderlust," revealed that having her son made her look for "something different" in her career.
"I think there was just a change as soon as I had a child, a different outlet to use all these new emotions and tools that were readily available to me -- I can cry at the drop of a hat now. I felt like I wanted to take a bite out of a character that had a little more bite to it, that was a bit of a challenge for me, and seeing if I can chew it."
"This is a big thing for me to be a part of this show," she added. "I remember sitting around at the first table reading thinking, 'Oh God, I'm grown up. I'm part of the big league now.' It was an incredible feeling."
Working with heavyweights like Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff on the "Wolf of Wall Street"-meets-"House of Cards" show has been a learning experience for Akerman, who said she learned the most from observing her co-stars and the choices they make on set -- especially Lewis, her sharkish on-screen husband, with whom she filmed the most scenes.
"I admire the choices the he makes and it's interesting to watch him shift from one idea to the next. You can tell that he's a very well trained theater actor. It's a beautiful thing to watch. It's like a ballet, a finely-tuned instrument," she gushed.
But the best part about being his "wife?"
"Have you guys seen him? He's so charming. I feel really lucky beacuse I just have the utmost respect for him as an actor, so I feel so lucky that I get to work with him every day. But you know, we also get to play billionaires, so I'm happy that i get to be a billionaire's wife."
With awards season around the corner, it's no surprise who Akerman will be rooting for.
"Damian Lewis, of course. Big supporter of my man."
"Billions" premieres on Showtime on Sunday, Jan. 17.
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