David Costabile Talks Soulmates, Billions, and Finding Joy In Uncertain Times

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If for no other reason, you should be watching AMC's Soulmates for the incredible talent they've rounded up to bring the stories to life.

Each episode of the anthology features talented actors who perfectly embody the complex nature of people struggling with the idea there is a perfect person for them in the world.

The idea behind the series is disruptive. The suggestion is that in the near future, an intelligent algorithm will perfectly match you with any other person on the planet who has also taken it's test, a test that is foolproof.

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David Costabile stars on tonight's episode as a college professor who took the test long ago but decided not to disrupt his life with whatever the test results revealed. Unfortunately for him, his match didn't have the same idea.

We had a chance to catch up with the seasoned actor to get his thoughts on the show and to get a little philosophical about its meaning.

Costabile leapt at the chance to work with AMC again, a network with which he's quite familiar after his work on Breaking Bad and Low Winter Sun.

"There was a great sense of trust about how they were going to make something new like this," Costabile said. He didn't know the writers, but he knew enough to admire what had written.

Shocked and Concerned at a Meeting

"That's kind of the thing that really drives me about what I'm interested in. The role was really fascinating to me about somebody stuck at a really perilous crossroad and gets himself into a terrible pickle, and probably doesn't make the best choices to get out of it," he said.

Costabile also appreciated how different the Soulmates role was to Wags on Billions. He admits he's been very lucky to find roles that vary so much from one another.

In addition to being on many different projects that he finds very rewarding, he said he enjoys "working with people who I find have great integrity, and they're all trying to solve this problem of a great piece of writing -- something like Lincoln or something like Breaking Bad or the Wire. Being able to really try to solve this puzzle was exciting to me. It was a really fun endeavor."

The role had its challenges, too. "It was really hard to do, trying to parse out not just the psychological journey of who this is, but also trying to figure out how you connect the present to the future.

Concern Over a Meeting

"You don't want to get to the point where you're making excuses for why you're doing what you're doing, and you're just blaming it on the future, and you're like, 'well, in the future, people don't do that.'

You're like, 'well, I don't really know if that's true.' I think that people are people, and people do lots of things, and just because we have telephones now, doesn't mean that back when we didn't have telephones people didn't act like people with telephones do."

In his estimation, Costabile thinks that maybe where you are in life would affect whether or not you decided to take the Soulmates test.

"I feel like if I were younger, I might take the test, but I kind of feel like now that I'm older in my middle age, I would be like, 'you know what, I think it's probably better to leave that stone where it lies rather than unearthing it and opening up some things that may not be helpful to you.'

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"Because also you don't know what your reaction is going to be to that, as opposed to just like, 'Oh, look at that. There's somebody else that could have been there for me or is there for me.'

"I think that's also one of the things that's striking about the show and really compelling about it, is that certainty that people are looking for. That there is a certainty that this gives you.

"If I know who my soulmate is, then I can be certain about X, Y, or Z. And I think that's a really compelling, dramatic aspect. For myself in the world, I think certainty is a lot less likely. We're all living in the same world now; we are living in an uncertain age. And I think that is probably much truer to my own life experience. We live uncertainly."

Before chatting with Costabile, I had read an article he did for GQ in 2019. It was a deep dive, one-on-one with a writer that resulted in a terrific look at the man and his experiences.

Encounter at the University

What I gleaned was that Costabile has learned how to embrace life. And he was kind enough to share with us how we could all seek and find satisfaction in these uncertain times.

"I guess one of the things that certainly living in this time really exposes are the things that don't really bring us joy and the things that do bring us joy. I've always felt the things to actively pursue in your life are things that bring you joy because joy isn't something that you can turn on or turn off.

"It is brought to you or it happens to you. I am brought joy. This brings me joy rather than I go out and I pursue it. There are plenty of things that make you happy that you really like. But joy is something that you can't stop and you mustn't stop.

"Usually, joy doesn't come from things that are necessarily destructive or it primarily comes from things that are about other people and helping other people or in addition to helping yourself. But there are other certain intangible ones that bring you joy.

Sharing Time with Others

"You know, like I love the physical newspaper of the New York times. I love having it. I love the joy it brings me because of all these people who are endeavoring all over the world to write well and to do all this work that they work so hard to make to tell you what's happening in the world. I find it incredible, and it can come to your door. It's incredible. It's just remarkable to learn all sorts of stuff every day.

"And so it can be as small as that, or it can be something larger, but I sort of feel those are the things to really nurture and cherish and make certain that you don't let go of because it can actually change you and not lead you into despairing."

Speaking of joy, Costabile had good news to share when it comes to his long-running and successful Showtime series, Billions, the character for which he's most recognized right now.

"We will go back and finish the end of the last few episodes of season five, and then we will continue working straight through and shoot season six. So next year, it will be an onslaught of Billions because we will just work from when we start until when we finish season six.

"Then we'll see where we go from there. Very luckily and happily, Showtime has renewed us, so I couldn't be happier."

David Costabile as Wags on Billions

Costabile has no concern that they might have the rug pulled out from under them as we've seen with other series recently. The team has been hard at work, putting everything into motion for when they can safely film again.

"They've been writing since July, I think. That's exciting. The writer's room has been up and swinging. My guess is that by the time we start, everything will be written."

That should make things much easier on the executive producers. "We're probably not starting until around March shooting again, and the protocols, my guess, will still be in effect then. It takes a lot of strategizing and work to produce during this particular time. So it's great that the writing will be done by then."

So you can rest assured that Billions will be back. In the meantime, you can catch Costabile in the latest episode of Soulmates, airing tonight on AMC at 10/9c.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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