A brilliant character actor with an impressive body of work to his credit, Titus Welliver now has a shot at a TV series of his own. But it can only happen with your help.
If you watch enough quality television, you know Titus Welliver. He was The Man In Black on Lost, Glenn Childs, the State's Attorney on The Good Wife, Jimmy O'Phelan, the Irish gang boss on Sons of Anarchy, Silas Adams, the "bagman from Yankton" on Deadwood, and has played many other characters on episodic television over the years. But despite his many TV appearances, recurring and otherwise, Welliver has never had a series of his own (not counting the very short-lived Falcone in 2000). This could all change very soon.
If all goes well, Bosch could be the first series to star Welliver. The show is based on author Michael Connelly's police detective Harry Bosch, the featured character in seventeen of Connelly's novels. Bosch is a troubled yet sympathetic soul in a drama that is dark, atmospheric, deliciously noir-ish and intense. It is one of ten shows featured as part of Amazon.com's "Pilot Season". And Bosch will only move forward as a series if it gets enough votes from you the viewer. You can stream all the pilots for free at the Amazon Originals site page, then vote for your favorites. Keep in mind, your votes hold a lot of weight and will mean the end or beginning for each of these projects.
Welliver is passionate about Bosch, and I recently spoke with him about what we can expect from the character and the show.
You’ve been in the business a long time and have a great body of work behind you. Why is it that other than the short-lived Falcone, you’ve never had your own series prior to Bosch?
That’s always up to the powers that be. I’ve had lead supporting roles on several shows but I’ve not ever had the “Titus” show, for lack of a better word. Some of that time, especially when my wife was ill, I really needed to be close to home and have some flexibility, just because I really needed to be there to take care of her and take care of our daughter. So I think in a way it was fine to be number 2 or number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 on the call sheets. I didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. That being said, in Bosch, I’m in every single shot of that show with the exception of a flashback. Even though the show is titled Bosch, it’s a strong ensemble show. All the characters are really there for a reason and not just there to bolster Bosch. Integral parts of that whole universe are established.
Had you read Michael Connolly’s Bosch books prior to taking the role?
I did. Michael sent me all the books, very graciously and generously. What he said was focus on City of Bones and Concrete Blonde because the combination of those books is what our pilot is and what our first season would be. Those two stories compressed into one. One being the civil suit that Harry’s in court for for the shooting of Roberto Flores, which is from Concrete Blonde. The Bone Run, the case defining the skeletal remains of the victim, is from City of Bones. That way we got Harry doing police work and also fighting for his career and on some level his life. If that goes wrong and he’s convicted, it’s not good news.
How did you get involved with the project?
I was sent the script. At the time I was shooting Transformers 4, which meant that I was kind of all over the map, multiple locations. It prevented me from making the first couple of meetings with [executive producers] Michael Connolly, Eric Overmyer, Henrik Bastin and Pieter Jan Brugge. At a certain point I really got anxious about it because we weren’t able to meet and I was concerned that they would say, “As much as we’d like to meet you, we can’t wait around forever.” So when I was finally able to meet with the creative team of Bosch, there was such tremendous passion and excitement and energy in the room. I thought, “I really want to work with these people.” When I got the call shortly after, that they had chosen me to play Bosch, I can’t tell you how excited I was.
In an interview with Michael Connolly, he says he is very hands-on and even scouts for locations himself. How does this affect the quality of the show?
He’s gold and so having him there and revisiting the places he actually talks about [in the books] is invaluable. He, better than anyone, knows Harry. He knows where Harry goes, what Harry likes to eat, what Harry smokes, what he drinks, what kind of music he likes to listen to. L.A. is really another character in the series as well as the books. So rather than going and shooting in Toronto or Vancouver, Atlanta or some other city and then fly into L.A. for a couple of days so we can stick Bosch in front of an identifiable landmark, we can do that whenever we want. And they don’t always have to be things like the Hollywood sign, they can be more subtle. Just the fact that he’s driving on the 101 freeway. It’s his world. So I think it’s great that Michael is there. His input is invaluable in every aspect of the show.
Does "your" Bosch differ from the one in the novels?
I don’t think so. I really pay close attention to trying to capture the nuance of [the] Harry that’s on the page and bring that to life. There are minuscule changes that we had to make due to my age. He’s no longer a Vietnam veteran but his military history is still intact. He served in the first Gulf War and then re-enlists after the tragedy of 9/11. He then goes back to the Special Forces 5th Group and fights against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in the caves and the tunnels. That tunnel rat aspect of Harry is still intact. It’s a different location, a different time.
But I think all the other things people like about Harry, that he’s kind of rough around the edges, curses a bit, that he’s got a temper [remain]. He’s also a very inverted guy, to a certain degree, emotionally. The other thing that I think is important, that would typically be the first thing to go with a character like Harry, is that he has a sense of humor. There’s a bit of a wink with Harry sometimes. He’s not just a stormy sea. He doesn’t lose his sense of humor at the seriousness of things. There’s levity here and there and I think that’s important. It’s very human and that’s what I love about Harry is that he is very human. He’s flawed. He has an enormous moral compass and he’s driven. But he’s flawed; he’s vulnerable. That, as an actor, really draws me to him.
What do you think about the way Amazon chooses which shows to pick up?
It’s a whole new world. It’s a different business model. It makes sense to me. It doesn’t mean it’s not nerve-wracking waiting to get the call. But I think when you’re dealing with a subscription based situation, to be able to empower your subscribers to a certain degree is good for business. It’s also like an enormous focus group. It gives a much broader idea of what the audience really likes about things and what they don’t like so much or the grey areas. It’s very informative. I think in a way subscribers take on a sense of ownership of the show. I think they’re more invested than when they just flip on the tube and watch whatever’s on.
The show has picked up a lot of support. Do you think social media has played a role in getting the word out?
It’s been incredible. I’ve never been involved with Twitter. A little bit with Facebook. But at the encouragement of my friend Clark Gregg, who does a lot of tweeting regarding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., [I find] you’re able to connect with fans in a different way. I’m really deeply touched by how they’ve rallied to support the show. I’m so indebted to them. I want the show to go on as a point of responsibility to express in return to the fans who are driving so hard to get this on the air. Because what I can promise them is that they won’t be disappointed. That their support will bear fruit to a tree that they will want to eat from.
If Bosch gets picked up is there anyone in particular you would like as a guest star?
This is what I know from my own experience as an actor: when there is a show on television that I really enjoy, I pick up the phone and call my representation and say, “Would you please throw my hat in the ring? Would you let the creators know that I would very much like to come in and do something on the show?” I ended up doing a lot of episodic television that way. Bosch is a show that actors I know have all categorically given a big thumbs up to. A lot of them have said, “Oh, I’ve gotta come on and do that show.” Because it is such a strong ensemble cast of actors. Who wouldn’t want to work with Annie Wersching or Lance Reddik or Jamie Hector, Scott Wilson or Allan Rosenberg? That’s just to name a few. This wasn’t stunt casting. They really got the best actors who were right for the roles. It wasn’t a thing where they said, “Let’s just try to populate this world with identifiable faces." It really came down to who came in and just nailed it. I think the pilot, in that way, speaks for itself. They’re all great actors.
You’ve done so many dark roles. Would you ever like to do comedy?
I would like to do comedy. It’s kind of a funny thing for me. I would so like to do that but I’ve sort of been pegged by the nature of the roles I’ve played. One of the cornerstones of my career has been playing hard-edged characters. I think sometimes when you do something well or that people like, the temptation is to ultimately get that person to do it again. Provided that the writing is good and that it’s a fresh take on something, I’m always happy to do it.