A prolific and well-respected character actor on television throughout the 2000s, David Costabile played intense, occasionally offbeat figures on such critical and audience hits as "Flight of the Conchords" (HBO 2007-09), "The Wire" (HBO 2002-08) "Damages" (FX/DirecTV Network 2007-2012) and "Breaking Bad" (AMC 2008-2013). Costabile emerged from the New York theater scene in the late 1990s to work steadily if somewhat anonymously in features and on television. He hit his stride in the late 2000s with simultaneous recurring roles on "Conchords," "The Wire" and "Damages." Each was very different from the other, which underscored his versatility. Costabile soon moved into major supporting roles before landing his fourth standout recurring character, the eccentric chemist Gale Boetticher, on "Breaking Bad." The critical and audience praise heaped on that series boosted Costabile's profile, affording him access to major projects like Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" (2012). But he soon returned to network television, joining the cast of the ratings-challenged but critically praised "Low Winter Sun" (AMC 2013), which allowed him to parlay his particular talent of disappearing into roles with remarkable skill and affirming his status as one of the better character actors of the 21st century.
Born in Washington, D.C., in 1967, David Costabile graduated from the Jesuit boys' school Gonzaga College High School in 1985 before attending Tufts University. He began appearing on the New York stage in the 1990s, achieving early fame in the post-modern clown show "The New Bozena," which was directed by actor Rainn Wilson. After graduating from New York University's master's program in 1995, he soon graduated to major Broadway productions, including the Tony-winning "Titanic" in 1997, while also making his first forays into film and television. Costabile worked steadily in bit roles through the 1990s, appearing in features like Tim Robbins' "The Cradle Will Rock" (1998) and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000). In 2008, he moved up to supporting player with a pair of high-profile roles on two series from HBO. Costabile played Doug, the hapless husband of obsessive fan Mel (Kristen Schaal) on "Flight of the Conchords," and also enjoyed a recurring role on the fifth season of "The Wire" as Thomas Klebanow, the self-impressed managing editor of the Baltimore Sun. While appearing in multiple episodes on both series, Costabile also logged numerous hours as the malevolent Detective Rick Messer in the first and second seasons of "Damages."
The critical acclaim afforded to all three series, as well as to Costabile's performances, provided him with a considerable boost to his profile, and the actor was soon making numerous guest appearances on various television shows, including "The Office" (NBC 2005-2013) and several iterations of the "Law & Order" franchise. In 2010, he drew praise for his turn as the gently eccentric and utterly doomed Gale Boetticher on "Breaking Bad." A gifted chemist, Gale was briefly hired as assistant to Walter White (Bryan Cranston) until the machinations of kingpin Gus Fring forced his firing and eventual assassination by Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). A video of Gale performing a karaoke version of Peter Schilling's 1980s synth-pop hit "Major Tom (Coming Home)" was among the most poignant and offbeat moments of the entire series.
From there, Costabile worked on numerous television series and an increased number of features. In the latter category, Costabile was cast as Indiana Republican and one-time Montana governor James Ashley in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" (2012) and played major supporting roles in the horror film "Foreclosure" (2012) Steven Soderbergh's thriller "Side Effects" (2013). During this period, Costabile also played the recurring role of a disgraced law partner on the drama "Suits" (USA, 2011- ). He then returned to work as a series regular on the AMC crime show "Low Winter Sun" (2013) as a shrewd Internal Affairs investigator.