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Q&A – David Costabile (Gale)

The actor describes geeking out on Bryan Cranston, singing an Italian song about omelets and facing his own mortality again, and again, and again.

Q: As a fan of Breaking Bad, what was it like to suddenly be on the set this season?

A: That was sort of thrilling; to just walk in and be like, I know what these people have made already, all I have to do is not mess it up. But also, I was just a straight up geeky fan. At one point, I think it was the second day, I geeked out on Bryan. I went way overboard about this moment in the second season and how much I loved it and how extraordinary I thought it was, and he got up and sort of walked away from me. [Laughs] It was pretty funny. I was such an excited fan.

Q: Are you as much of a geek as Gale?

A: I don’t know if I’m that far down the well of geekitude. However, I understand and have a deep respect for my inner geek.

Q: Is there a poem that means as much to you as “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” does to Gale?

A: That I carry with me? There isn’t. My own favorite poet is this guy Philip Levine who was this working class poet from Detroit. He writes about salami and pigs and butchers.

Q: What was it like to have an entire set created around your character?

A: It was very fun to actually be able to walk into your home. There were days when I could just be there and read a book they had placed there. His taste was extraordinarily eclectic. There were photographs — you can see in the background that he was a mountain climber. In addition to being a very studious intellectual, he also likes to get outside and do crazy s— like climb Everest.There he is.

Q: What item in his apartment did you enjoy the most?

A: The potato clock, powered from the energy of a potato. It was very clear as to why and how that got there. You know the part where you see him test to get the exact temperature for the tea that he’s making? That all seemed of a similar piece to me.

Q: Are you that meticulous in your own life?

A: No. But it was very fun to imagine being that meticulous in life. There’s something uniquely satisfying about it. I mean are you that meticulous in life? Could you imagine?

Q: His tea is probably perfect.

A: Right.

Q: What’s the song you’re singing before Gus shows up?

A: It’s called “Grapa Pelada.” It’s a crazy song about this guy who makes an omelet and doesn’t give any to his brothers, and his brothers make an omelet and they don’t give any to him. That’s what the song was about. Who knows what these guys were doing back in the ’30s singing this song, but they did it. And Gale found that song and learned it. For me, that was extremely fun, to be able to sing on TV.

Q: Walt tells Gale that he’s like jazz. What music genre would you use to describe yourself?

A: I might be a little jazz. When I was younger, I followed lots of rules. So sometimes I’ll set up a rule and I’ll break the rule in order to feel naughty, which I sort of feel like jazz can do. You set up a pattern and do it and then part of the improvisation is that you actually get to then not follow the rule you established.

Q: What was the most difficult part of shooting the scene where Jesse shows up to kill you?

A: Sustaining that. To live inside of the last moments of your life is a mind blower. To not just do it once but repeated and repeated for hours. It was quite a day. Also, to have a gun that close to your face all day, it’s unpleasant. They’re extremely good about it, and they always show you there are no bullets in the gun and yet, Aaron is such a fantastic actor, you never get a sense that we’re pretending. There is no pretending. That’s just a real gun.

Q: Do you think there’s any chance Gale could still be alive?

A: It’s what’s so incredible about how it ends. You’ve created such a terrific character and fleshed it out that then that he would be taken away from you is so profound. He’s such a great companion for Walt. You think, “Oh my God, he’s finally found a soul that he can connect to,” but no… I mean, Vince and the writers are extraordinary people so they could come up with something. However, with a gun that close to someone’s face it certainly seems like the result is…

Click here to read an interview with the man who plays Gale’s chemistry soul mate (and would-be assassin), Bryan Cranston (Walter White).

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