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Q&A – David Costabile (Simon Boyd)

David Costabile, who plays Simon Boyd on AMC’s Low Winter Sun, talks about the research he did to play an internal affairs officer and compares his character to Breaking Bad‘s Gale Boetticher. 

Q: Many fans will recognize you from your role as Gale Boetticher on Breaking Bad. Will they find any similarities with your character from Low Winter Sun?

A: If they do, I will be absolutely shocked. It would be incredible. Maybe the similarity that they both love their job, but past that, it would be really surprising to me. Certainly, the characters in Low Winter Sun don’t particularly like my character, to put it mildly.

Q: Internal affairs guys aren’t usually the most popular ones in the building.

A: They really aren’t. All the guys that I’ve talked to who have done it have said as much. A cousin of mine was an internal affairs officer for a while after having been a homicide and drug cop. He said that there were friends of his that, for the first time, didn’t talk to him because he was an I.A. cop. And then on the day that he left, they started to talk to him again. I called him to discuss what it’s like to live like that. It was really helpful. Ira Todd, who’s our police consultant, introduced us to a lot of different cops. There’s something about police who are interested in taking a ten percent pay cut, constantly worrying about whether their pension will be there when they’re finished, and are still interested in trying to help the people of the city.

Q: What do you think fans of Breaking Bad will enjoy about Low Winter Sun?

A: I think the thing that continues to get me about Low Winter Sun is that the audience doesn’t know what the answer is. There is a great thriller aspect in Breaking Bad that you sometimes forget about. It’s an incredible character study and an incredible story. But there’s also a great thrill because Walt could get caught; you don’t know if he’s going to get out of it. In Low Winter Sun, you may know some answers, like who killed who. But you don’t know how they’re going to get out of it. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, or what they know about why they did it. And the thrill of that is really quite fun. And it’s one of those things that when we get the scripts, we find out.

Q: Gale didn’t make it too long on Breaking Bad before he was killed. What kinds of actions have you taken on the set of Low Winter Sun to avoid a similar fate for Simon Boyd?

A: [Laughs] It’s completely out of my hands! And also something that one lives under. When I got to Breaking Bad, I thought I was so protected. I was in an underground bunker, I didn’t carry a gun. I wasn’t even a drug dealer or a drug maker. But in fact I was! So now the fact is that I’m in Detroit and I’m around a bunch of cops who are dirty. And I still don’t have a gun, so this is all still very dangerous for me.

VIDEO: David Costabile Looks Back on Breaking Bad and Ahead to Low Winter Sun

Q: You’ve also acted on another show that deals with police, The Wire. Did you bring anything you picked up on that set to Low Winter Sun?

A: You know, one of the great things about seeing television now for me is that because it’s a writer’s medium — there is so much respect being given to great writers who are writing for television now — is how deep a sense of respect the actors need to have for the writing. You can’t try to change it by adding your little ad-libs. And that’s absolutely something that I learned from The Wire. There would be times I did a scene and changed “this” to “that,” and we would have to redo the scene. And I think when you get in conversation with tremendous writers, they reveal things that you didn’t even know.

Q: You started out the show knowing more about the murder than your character. How do you unlearn that fact to play the role as an investigator?

A: In acting, they talk about you have to be in the moment. That’s how you act well.

Q: Do you think Boyd is a good enough detective that he would be able to solve Gale’s murder?

A: Oh yeah, absolutely. He’s a good detective. I think if he and Hank were working together, it would be good, though Hank might want to kill him. But I think they could do it.

Read an interview with Lennie James, who plays Detective Joe Geddes

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