Malin Akerman showed her physical-comedy skills in "The Heartbreak Kid" and superhero fight moves, after intense training, in "Watchmen." For Showtime's "Billions," a power-, money- and sex-driven series premiering Sunday, Akerman, 37, displays her dramatic side as Lara, the streetwise, protective wife of cunning hedge-fund owner Bobby "Axe" Axelrod, played by Damian Lewis. Axe is a target of Paul Giamatti's character, Chuck Rhoades, a privileged, politically astute U.S. attorney. Each is weighed down by secrets and old scores they need to settle.
For "Watchmen" you trained with a former Navy SEAL. How do you work out now?
Yoga, SoulCycle and the gym. CrossFit keeps your body guessing what you will do next so you are less apt to plateau.... I don't have a trainer but work out with a buddy. We push each other. If we are at different levels, we do different workouts but the same number of sets. I might lift 15 pounds and my friend 25. Working out with a buddy, I can't cheat like I would doing circuit training by myself. [laughs]
You eat three meals and two snacks a day. Why?
It's healthful. If you haven't eaten in five hours, you'll stuff your face with whatever's there. When I work out, my metabolism speeds up.... If I don't work out, I choose more nutrient-rich food: fish, grain pastas, broccoli and leafy greens.... I am aware of how what I eat makes me feel. My goal is to eat 70% fruits and vegetables.... Dark chocolate is part of my daily life.
Growing up, your mother owned health-food stores. Any secrets to enticing kids to try more healthful foods?
[Working with an environmentalist friend] I have been helping plant gardens in elementary schools and high schools. When the plants are ready, they bring in chefs to cook a meal for the kids and their families. It's fun and the kids are so proud. Gardening creatively teaches them photosynthesis and math.
You played a trophy wife on TV. Have you felt pressure to "look good"?
There's a lot of focus on that in Hollywood.... I've been lucky. I was born with certain genes and have been physically active all my life.... I haven't felt pressure [from others] but I see friends with hourglass figures and think, damn, I wish I had that body. [laughs] … The "Trophy Wife" TV show was tongue-in-cheek.... I've never been told by anyone, "You've got to lose weight or do [something to my appearance]." I stay focused on health.
How do you maintain your upbeat outlook?
Gratitude. My father is a glass-half-full guy. That's who I grew up with.... You only get one life, so it's better to find the growth or lesson in a bad situation. Staying positive improves your life and it's contagious.