Titus Welliver Interview: "Harry Bosch Is a Character I Feel Like I’ve Really Settled Into"
Image attributed to Titus Welliver
Titus Welliver is a veteran of film, television and theater. On the big screen, he starred in Transformers 4: Age of Existence and Promised Land. In addition, he has appeared in all of Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck’s directorial outings, including Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo.
On television, Welliver has appeared in Deadwood, NYPD Blue, Third Watch, The Twilight Zone, The Closer, The Good Wife (recurring role, 16 episodes), The Last Ship, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and is known for his portrayal of “The Man in Black” character that was central to the ABC hit series Lost. He is the son of landscape painter Neil Welliver and is an artist himself.
"You have to throw caution to the wind, and right, wrong or indifferent, trust your instincts. Harry Bosch is a character I feel like I’ve really settled into. In that way, I know who the character is, and it’s just about the telling of the story and having the characters react to the circumstances he’s faced with."
Welliver can currently be seen in the title role of the police procedural Bosch produced by Amazon studios and based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. The third season of Bosch can be seen on Amazon Video beginning April 21, 2017.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Titus, you’ve said that the scope of season two was broader than the first season as far as more complex storytelling. So, how would you describe season three in comparison to the first two?
Titus Welliver: I think even more so. Harry has been pursuing a serial killer but hasn’t been able to obtain enough concrete evidence to get the District Attorney’s office to file. So, he’s using some unorthodox, and actually technically illegal, procedures to try to catch this guy. What ultimately unfolds is that the suspect turns up murdered, and things are discovered which places Harry as the central suspect in the murder itself, possibly as an avenging angel. The stakes could not be higher.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Maddie moves in with her dad, so Harry becomes a single father raising a teenager. Does that change the dynamic of the show where Bosch may soften up a little?
Titus Welliver: Well, he does to a certain degree, but of course, the timing of it, with Harry being more inverted than ever and trying to navigate suddenly being a full-time parent, makes for some interesting drama in his life because she’s not a little child anymore. She’s a young woman. She’s 16 years old and learning how to drive, and she’s trying to find her way with Harry.
There’s a level of distance with him to a certain degree, and she’s trying to penetrate the wall, as no one is really able to do successfully. Those scenes are really gratifying for me as an actor, but also I think it will be very much so for the audience as well.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Harry Bosch lives in an apartment above Los Angeles, so you always see the city as though LA was one of the characters in the show. Is there something particularly gritty about a crime show being filmed there?
Titus Welliver: There’s a lot going on, and LA is really the central character. We all just sort of bounce around in the universe of Los Angeles in the police department and the crimes that occur because like all systems, it’s a flawed system. So, that’s at the center of Harry’s frustration in being able to do his job, then dealing with bureaucracy and corruption and certain levels of dishonesty. It makes for some really good storytelling.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How much of Harry’s persona comes directly from the Michael Connelly books, and does input also come from the police that are consultants, or do you have any input into the character?
Titus Welliver: Because it’s one of those “if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it” things, we really stay true to the books for the center of who Harry is and how he navigates that world. We have great technical consultants who are active Robbery Homicide Division detectives, so certainly when there’s technical questions they’re there to answer them and that’s very helpful. I think it is one of those things where the temptation many times, when you’re taking source material such as books, is to wonder how you could raise the stakes and try to make it more interesting.
But, I think the character of Bosch that’s established in the books is interesting enough as it is, so we don’t have to deviate, and that, for me, is really integral to the success of the show.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you read all of the Bosch series of novels?
Titus Welliver: I read the books that we select to use each season, and three books ago, I started doing the recording of the audiobooks. I’ve done the last three most recent books in which Harry is about 15 years older than he is on the show. In the latest book, he’s retired. He’s in his early 60s, but he’s working as an auxiliary detective for the San Fernando Police Department and working as a private eye. So, I read the books sort of at my leisure. I didn’t necessarily go back and read the books chronologically.
This season, one of the books we’re using is the very first Harry Bosch novel The Black Echo. We’ve taken that storyline and mixed it up with another book called A Darkness More Than Night. As we move toward production in August on season four, we’ll be using the book Angels Flight. So, it’s very exciting.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): As a visual artist, have you ever been interested in becoming a cinematographer?
Titus Welliver: We have really great cinematographers on the show, and they’ve been very generous in their time with me because I like to study all aspects of the production to have a better understanding of it. I directed some theater in the past, and I think it is the cliché that as they say every actor wants to direct, and that’s something, at some point, I’d like to pursue.
The reason I’m an actor is because my parents took me to see films when I was a child, so I’ve had a tremendous love for film and for television. In that regard, to be boots on the ground at that production level has really been very rewarding, not just as an actor, but in every aspect of the production, writing, producing and directing, too.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you find as much joy and personal satisfaction in creating visual art as you do in acting?
Titus Welliver: I do. The difference is that painting is a very solitary process for me. I’ve been asked the question, “If you could make your living as an artist, would you step away from acting?” The direct answer is “No” because what I love about acting is the process of sitting across the table and working with another human being. That creative process is very rewarding. So, they’re two different muscles. They stimulate that want that I have, that creative want, but they sort of fulfill things intellectually and artistically for different parts.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Shortly before this interview, I heard your Christopher Walken impression, and I must say it was really very good!
Titus Welliver: (laughs) Aw, thank you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did doing impressions also interest you at an early age?
Titus Welliver: I think it was just something I didn’t ultimately make an active, conscious decision to do. I was just a mimic. I was always drawn to certain things. As a child, it was cartoon character voices, and then it evolved into doing impressions of friends and my family, then ultimately led to doing actors and things like that. I think it was just something I didn’t necessarily have any control over. It just got to me, and through the process of osmosis, I started doing it. It’s sort of funny how it evolved.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you watch yourself on Bosch and other projects with a critical eye?
Titus Welliver: What I do with Bosch is, I don’t watch the dailies, but as the episodes are edited, I typically will see the somewhat finalized cuts of each episode, and so I’ll watch them. But, I do that and move on. I don’t sit and obsess, so what I try to do is do an editing process within camera to not put on a performance that I don’t want out there in the world and trust my instincts to do it on the day because I think it would be very indulgent and self-conscious to sit there and second guess and re-watch things because it’s been already completed.
You have to throw caution to the wind, and right, wrong or indifferent, trust your instincts. Harry Bosch is a character I feel like I’ve really settled into. In that way, I know who the character is, and it’s just about the telling of the story and having the characters react to the circumstances he’s faced with.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your daughter, Cora, appeared in the last episode of season two?
Titus Welliver: Yes, she did. My middle son Quinn plays me as young Harry Bosch, and he’s back this season. There’s a couple of wonderful flashback scenes that, for the audience, will be very rewarding because it reveals an origin of something that is very much a part of who Harry is. So, I’m excited to see how they respond when that’s uncovered. I’m proud of both my children. They did an excellent job.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Both Quinn and Cora are interested in pursuing acting as a serious career?
Titus Welliver: Well, all three of my children enjoy acting, and it’s not from any kind of pressure from me. I think sometimes it comes environmentally. Both my parents were artists, so my original consideration as a career path was to be a fine artist like my parents. So, you absorb what’s around you, and my kids have spent a lot of time on film sets, and I’m thankful to say that it’s in the DNA.
As I’ve said to them, I support them in whatever journey they pursue provided it’s something that they love because that, to me, is the most important thing and not just to punch a clock based on necessity, but more on intellectual sustenance and that which will sustain a person. You want to do something that excites you enough to get up in the morning and go and do, not just something that you have to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You sound like a great dad. Good for you.
Titus Welliver: I try (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are there other projects you wish to discuss, Titus?
Titus Welliver: Yeah. I just finished shooting Escape Plan 2 with Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista. I play a heavy in that, and that was really enjoyable. I’m heading off to Bulgaria next week to shoot a thriller with Claire Forlani. So, I’m keeping myself busy as the writers are sequestered in the writing room preparing season four of Bosch to begin production at the end of July this year.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I love to binge-watch Bosch, so I’m looking forward to season three!
Titus Welliver: I think you’ll be happy with this season. The nice thing is that there’s been great progression that goes on there, and they’ve chosen a really good book. We still have some loose ends from previous seasons that are sort of contiguous in that regard storywise, So, I feel very excited for season three to come out because I know that the fanbase has tremendous anticipation and excitement. I share that in that regard, and I look forward to everyone’s reactions to season three.
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