Thanks to she talent, ferocity, beauty, and brains, Billions" Maggie Siff is no garden-variety star.

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By Chip Brown

The day will pretty lot take care of chin if Maggie Siff have the right to just get out that bed.

Hers is a big bed in a modest apartment not much from Brooklyn"s possibility Park. Her difficulty has naught to perform with the usual troubles that make it difficult for world to gain out that bed, like the pointlessness that life or a dull job. It"s really simply a question of excessive togetherness, i m sorry sometime during the night will have actually turned the mattress into the cabin room scene from A Night in ~ the Opera or, closer to home, a sirloin hour subway automobile on the F train.


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Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

On one side is Siff"s husband, Paul Ratliff, a psychotherapist. Insinuated between them is your 5-year-old daughter, Lucy, that will have actually wandered in native a bed of she own. Flanking Siff so the it"s practically impossible for her to role over will be their shaggy 80-pound Labradoodle, Augie, who has actually soulful eyes and a challenge that each other an Old testimony prophet"s. And finally, snugging increase the works favor an extra class of balloon wrap, is Iris the cat.

"When ns wake up, I have the right to hardly move," says Siff.


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Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled through Cristina Ehrlich.

It"s hard to imagine the the insightful, soft-spoken 44-year-old actress that starts her mornings immobilized in bedded household bliss is the exact same woman who has actually made a tv career as what she it s her once called "the queen of toxicity masculinity." Siff dram in-house that company therapist Wendy Rhoades, the ballsy female command of the SHOWTIME collection Billions, now about to start its fifth season.

By work she slaps the alpha back into alpha hedge money traders for her cocksure, corner-cutting billionaire boss, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Through night she is a sometime in-house dominatrix indulging the S&M fantasies of her bulldog husband, chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), a crusading U.S. Attorney and Axelrod"s arch adversary. In the pilot episode 4 years ago, Maggie Siff, in thigh-high stiletto boots (and recommend on collection by a bondage and discipline "consultant"), was called upon come dispense some "correction" by placing a cigarette out on she trussed-up husband"s chest and then anointing the burn v a fresh stream the urine.


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Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

All in a day"s work.

"I"m a lot more controlled as a human than i am together an actor," says Siff, sitting in the back of a ar coffee shop in Brooklyn on one S&M-cold December morning. She"d come in jeans, a heavy coat, thick structure hat, and purple scarf over a beige sweater and a green shirt that picks increase the hazel in her eyes. "I monitor myself pretty closely as a person. Once I"m performing, I shot to let that go."

She cites the example of another scene indigenous the Billions pilot in which businessman Mick Danzig, play by Nathan Darrow, enters she office moping about his laggard positions and back-of-the-pack performance. Siff speak him come snap the end of it and also reminds that he"s the financial equivalent of a navy SEAL. The two actors had rehearsed the scene, however when they were shooting it Siff found herself all of sudden punching Darrow in the chest to emphasize she point around his outstanding abilities.


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Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring through Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"When you produce a character, you can"t setup the form things will certainly take," she says. "I constantly know I"m act a good job when I"m surprised through what happens. Surprise have the right to take the kind of a gesture or a vocalization—something that comes from the emotion. If you"re no pushing for a result, emotion can land friend in some strange places."

And whereby emotions could not take it you, script will. After she check out the pilot because that Billions, Siff wanted to know exactly how the S&M scenes would serve the story, whether they would certainly be provided sparingly without being exploitative or sensationalized.

"I also wanted come make sure I wouldn"t have to perform castle in mine underwear."


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Dress by Vivienne Westwood. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings through Celine. Ring and also bracelet, vintage.

Photography through David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff to be born in Albany, new York, in 1974 and also raised in Riverdale after she parents determined to stop growing a many their very own food in ~ their house in upstate brand-new York and also move to the Bronx in 1977. Maggie was their last child, eight years younger 보다 her brother, Ivan, who currently works in Germany together a cabinetmaker and also is a fluent-in-Japanese 10th-degree black color belt in Aikido, and also 10 years younger than her sister, Ellen, a ar outreach educator at Bates university in Maine.

"My household had a entirety life with each other in the sixties before I was born," she says.


Siff"s Russian-Jewish paternal grandfather was one of the tutors of Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Her father, David, now 84 and also living in brand-new York, operated as a theater and also television actor in the 1950s and also "60s, showing up under the stage name David Faulkner in mirrors such as Wagon Train and The Untouchables. After earning a Ph.D. In victor literature, the quit acting and took a project as an assistant professor of English in ~ the university of Wisconsin in Madison, where his outspoken antiwar activism and membership in the radical Students for a Democratic culture eventually got him fired in November 1970. He revolutionized himself again as a sportswriter and resumed his acting career.


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Dress by Zimmermann. Earrings by Yaya. Ring through Kavant & Sharart.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Siff"s mother, Jenny Dowling, flourished up in one ex-pat family in Mexico, "a many brilliant person, one autodidact, an extraordinary writer," Siff says. She, too, had acted yet eventually offered it up. She spent plenty of years functioning for the new York City government and is now employed together a Spanish-English translator for immigrant areas in Portland, Maine.

"I think after ~ the 1960s mine parents to be in recovery mode. Among my aunts remained in the Weather Underground. Throughout the Olympics us rooted because that the Russians! The feeling in the house was upper-middle-class Jewish, but we were culturally different. My parents were anti-consumers. We didn"t have a many money. For around five years in a row on Halloween, i dressed up together a gypsy because my mother had actually a most Mexican clothes. No a piece of princess."


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Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Ring by Kavant & Sharart and also Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled through Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff knew she wanted to it is in a performer once she was 8 years old. And not lengthy after that, she found the potential because that humiliation the is part and parcel of anyone that courts life top top a stage.

"My brother caught me to sing the playthings R us jingle as soon as I to be 9," she says. "To his credit, he later on wrote me a letter and also apologized for making fun of me."

"Do you still remember the jingle?"

As if the 1980s shelves of pre-bankrupt toys R us were quiet beckoning, Siff move instantly into a saccharine singsong: "I"m a toys R united state kid, I gained the ideal for so much less. I don"t want to flourish up since if ns did, i wouldn"t it is in a playthings R us kid!" climate she laughs. "The irony is my parents would never ever buy me a toy from toys R Us. They would never permit a Barbie in the house."


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Dress through Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography through David Needleman. Styled through Cristina Ehrlich.

Siff was accepted at brand-new York City"s famous High school of Performing Arts, but at she mother"s insistence she attend the equally difficult Bronx High school of Science—four years of mathematics classes (including calculus), Latin, and also a heavy dose of lab work. She prospered in speech and also debate courses, traveling with the college team to area tournaments on weekends to perform.

She placed first a few times, transporting monologues native plays by Craig Lucas and Athol Fugard, which attractive the fist of a competition judge native Regis High School. The drama teacher at the exclusive Jesuit all-boys prep institution on the east side the Manhattan to be looking to recruitment girls because that a Shakespeare production. So Siff, 16, started taking the subway right into Manhattan come rehearse she theatrical debut together Helena in A Midsummer Night"s Dream.


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Dress through Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings through Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

When she went off to college at Bryn Mawr, she dropped under the affect of professor the theater note Lord and took part in a number of student productions, including a Beckett play done at the crumbling destroy of the east State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

"Mark teach the skill of presence and precision and also controlled activity on stage that felt an ext like dance," Siff says.


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Dress by Corpus. Coat through Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Graduating v a degree in English in 1996 she quickly made a name for herself, appearing in countless Philadelphia local theater productions. She won Philadelphia theatre awards, however to pay the rental she additionally had to scuffle approximately in various jobs, native waitressing come cleaning dwellings to functioning as a temp in ~ a hedge money for three weeks, a gig that gave her a glimpse of the human being of Billions. Looking come deepen she craft, she enrolled in a three-year graduate acting program at brand-new York college in 2001, as soon as she to be 27.

"I was feeling all the worldly pressures, the financial pressures of make the efforts to it is in an actor. And also the program at NYU reminded me of the innate transformative strength of acting. It teach me to come to be a vessel because that surprise—how come remain open up to points dropping in, exactly how to trust in a paradoxical process that marries occupational with a absence of control. The takes training come drop artifice and also let yourself be a conduit. For me the totality experience was choose being parched in a desert and somebody providing you water."


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Dress by Corpus. Coat through Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings through Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After NYU, Siff"s career took off, fueled much more by television job-related than theater. She"s ridden to a measure up of fame over the previous 12 years, an initial playing a department keep heiress, Rachel Menken, who has actually an affair v Don Draper on AMC"s Mad Men. Then living in Los Angeles, she starred for six seasons in the FX series Sons that Anarchy. Her character, Tara Knowles, a medical professional who i do not care the mam of the head of a motorcycle gang, exited the present after her mother-in-law drowned her in a sink the dishwater while stabbing she in the back of the head through a barbecue fork.

A fatality like that might make anyone desire to remain in bed with a Labradoodle and also a cat. Siff had obtained married during her run on Sons that Anarchy; she and Ratliff, who"d been an gibbs before ending up being a therapist, had courted by email; on their first anniversary, she husband had the correspondence printed and also bound and gave the book to Siff as a present.


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Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Pair of shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings through Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After their daughter, Lucy, was born in 2014, Maggie Siff was dubbed for a Billions audition. The producers had reportedly screened an ext than 100 actresses before bowing to the queen of toxicity masculinity, see in her regime some steely top quality undaunted by outsize masculine egos. Before and after the begin of each season, Siff has actually made a suggest of sit down v the showrunners come talk about Wendy Rhoades, who originally seemed to it is in the ethical compass that Billions, offering "corrections" of one kind or another to her moral immoralist that a boss and her not ethical moralist the a husband.

"I claimed to the showrunners, "I don"t want to be a ethical compass. It"s boring." The display is around corruption. I"d choose to check out Wendy lose some of she self-control and also then check out if she can put herself ago together. We live in an er of masculine anti-heroes. Is there a important female antihero? all the female antiheroes seem to be copy the male form. What yes, really interests me about Wendy is how facility she is; she"s no one thing, she"s not one color, she"s not consigned come one role."


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Dress by Temperley London. Earrings through Jennifer Zeuner. Ring by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography through David Needleman. Styled through Cristina Ehrlich.

The same might be stated for Siff herself. Last feather she starred in a brand-new York manufacturing of Sam Shepard"s The Curse the the Starving Class, and also next fall, once season 5 of Billions is finished, she is booked to perform the function of Lady in a production of Tennessee Williams" Orpheus Descending.

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"I want to do it all," Siff says. "Film, television, theater. Theatre is much more intense because you acquire to use all the tools, physical, vocal. You"re in genuine time; nobody"s editing your performance. It"s an extremely taxing, too—there"s a liminal quality; girlfriend feel sometimes as if you"re about to walk over to an additional dimension. I"m truly interested in acting. I"ve constantly thought if ns had another career, it would certainly be teaching acting."

For a 2nd Maggie Siff seems preoccupied by a theoretical life. Climate she shrugs, knowing complete well the at the minute there simply isn"t room in the bed.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, March-April 2020.

PHOTOGRAPHY: David Needleman

STYLIST: Cristina Ehrlich

HAIR: Bradley Irion

MAKE-UP: Genevieve Herr