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Interview: Titus Welliver

To say that Titus Welliver is one of the most respected and hardest working actors in Hollywood today would be an understatement.

Welliver has amassed a resume that would be the envy of any actor in Hollywood today. On the small screen, he’s appeared in series such as Law & Order: SVU, Deadwood, Lost, Brooklyn South, Sons of Anarchy, Life and The Closer to name a few. On the big screen, he’s appeared in films such as Argo, Assault on Precinct 13, The Town, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Currently, Titus can be seen playing the lead character Harry Bosch in the original Amazon series Bosch, which just released its fifth season and has already been renewed for a sixth season.

We had the honor of sitting down with Titus to talk about the fifth season of the series. What the relationship is between Maddie and Harry Bosch, how protective he has become of the character and what fans can look forward to with the fifth season of the series.

Pop Culture Principle – In Season 4, Bosch finally finds out who killed his mother. It’s been a case that has followed him his entire career. Now that the case is closed, will Bosch finally be able to move on or will he never truly have closure?

Titus Welliver – No, he won’t. You’ll hear Bosch say every now and then that closure is a myth. I believe that to from my own experience and also from speaking to detectives. They would say all you can do is obtain justice and that you can never obtain closure for the victim and their family. There is an acceptance in that lost, but no real closure.

The only solace for Bosch is that he’s put Bradley Walker away for the killing of Elias, but he’s not put him away for his mother’s murder, but he knows that Bradley Walker won’t get out of prison or at least we can only hope. At one point, Michael Connelly and I discussed the idea of Walker appealing and possibly getting out on a technicality, but we realized that he was so nailed to the ground with evidence, be it both physical and circumstantial to a certain degree and also the fact that he attempted to kill Bosch which would be attempted murder on a police officer, there is no way he would get out.

I feel like that loss for Bosch is that which informed his kind of journey to become a cop. He became a cop because his mother was a marginalized member of society because she was a prostitute. The cops didn’t put in the work to try and find her killer, so that is the impetus for him to become a cop.

Pop Culture Principle - Another thing we saw in the fourth season is the strain in the relationship between Bosch and Edgar. Will we see that continue in Season 5 and will Bosch ever be able to truly trust Edgar again?

Titus Welliver – I think he does. In Season 4, Edgar puts it out there and says that he doesn’t want surprises and I think that they have that understanding now. Harry will now try not to surprise Edgar again because he doesn’t want to ever compromise somebody else. Harry’s whole thing is that he can compromise himself all he wants, but he won’t do that to other people. I feel like not only have they mended their fence, but they have a better understanding. At the end of Season 4, their relationship was in such a state of wreckage and what you see is Edgar stepping up to the plate big time for Harry. There is no animus there and there is no disappointment. If anything, I feel that Edgar is relieved that Harry is ok.

For those who haven’t seen Season 5, J. Edgar is dealing with these crooked cops and I love that scene where J. Edgar goes back to his car and smashes his hands on the steering wheel. These cops are telling him he needs to watch his back. After I saw the first rough cut of that episode, I said to Connelly that you know Harry is going to have to deal with that because Edgar is going to let it slip somehow, but I want Harry to go and confront those cops without Edgar knowing because A) that is Harry’s code and B} Harry hates dirty cops. I want to circle back and have Harry let those cops know that if they ever threaten his partner again, he’s watching them.

Pop Culture Principle – We also see Maddie really coming into her own as a person in Season 4. Will we see that growth continue in Season 5 and might there be some friction between her and Bosch because of her growing?

Titus Welliver – The interesting thing about the dynamic of that relationship is the similarity of the two characters. She has many character traits that Harry has. People often talk about how much they like the relationship with Harry and Maddie and truthfully, by and large, those are some of my favorite scenes to play on the show. Madison and I work very hard at creating a realm of grounded reality. I explained to her that it’s our responsibility in the depiction of this relationship, to put forth a real relationship, not the cliché, textbook thing that we often see. We put an enormous amount of effort into those scenes and you will see more of it.

There is always going to be certain levels of conflict between those characters because of their personalities and their similarities, but where we find them in Season 5 is that they are still reeling from this staggering loss of Eleanor’s death and trying to figure out how they navigate that grief, but also how they navigate each other navigating that grief autonomously. So, they are always kind of observing each other. What’s interesting is that Maddie, just like Harry, is an observer and that’s the thing about Harry Bosch, he’s in a constant state of observation and you see so much of that spilling over into Maddie and that really comes to play in a big way in Season 5. The only time we see the chinks in Harry’s armor and the depth of vulnerability with Harry is when he’s with her.

In Season 5, Harry goes undercover and has no way to communicate with her and he sort of breaks his own rule. She’s understandably terrified and when he returns from being undercover, it’s a bumpy re-entry because she’s angry with him and he resents her anger. We see a lot of this get fleshed out in Season 5.

Pop Culture Principle – One of the amazing things about the character Bosch is that he doesn’t have to say a lot to “say a lot.” Is that something that you’ve been very aware of when playing this character and how do you approach that type of acting?

Titus Welliver – It’s not that Harry is monosyllabic, he’s a guy who doesn’t say anything unless he’s got something to say. He’s not a guy who waste words and he doesn’t bullshit. He’s not a big small talk kind of guy. The challenge is that in the books, Harry’s inner life is explained through the narrative of Connelly’s writing, so we can find Harry and know what his emotional state is in the book. It is beautifully described in the narrative and we know where we are, but how do you translate that? Connelly tells us what is going on in Harry’s head and what his contemplation is in that moment and I relish those moments of silence because for me as an actor, that’s one of the most difficult exercises for me is to communicate some level of emotion and/or intent without dialogue.

There have been times when there was scripted dialogue and I’ve said to the writer and director that there is no need for Harry to respond here. There is no reason for him to say anything here and I don’t think he would say anything. Let’s just go back on his face and let’s let that part of the scene play out with him taking measure of what’s happening and not commenting on it, but the audience will know what he’s thinking.

What happens is that at a certain point in the show, and I really attribute that to the writing, the cinematography and maybe a small part to my interpretation of the character, is that the audience kind of experiences and works the case with Harry in real time. There is almost a weird process of osmosis for people watching the show and they become Harry to a certain degree.

Pop Culture Principle – Having played this character now for five seasons now, how protective have you become with this character?

Titus Welliver – I don’t think I’ve ever been this protective of a character I’ve played. From the minute that I read the script, I felt a kinship and connection to this character and I really understood who he was. For me, my constant charge is to service the character created by Michael Connelly. There are certain aspects of that character that I have made my own and that were not in the book, but there has never been a deviation on my part to make Harry different than he is in the books because it is such a rich character. I am fiercely protective of the Harry Bosch character. Unless it’s Michael Connelly, I don’t think you are going to win an argument with me about what Harry does and how he moves and sits.

I’m very protective of him and I think that my thing was that I felt that the character and his morality were already iconic and I didn’t have to embellish that stuff to make him more dynamic. What makes Harry Bosch dynamic is that he is a real person and that is when I know I’ve done my job. Viewers don’t feel like they are watching an interpretation of the character on screen. My credo is that I never want to be caught acting. Within this character, there is a protection of all things that are Harry. Not only the character but the reality and we really work hard to maintain that.

Harry Bosch is not the kind of character that will be driving the red corvette and leaping out of the top of the t-roof with his gun drawn and doing three somersaults and landing on his feet and he doesn’t have the bottomless magazine in his gun.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you find yourself thinking like a cop in your personal life?

Titus Welliver – Long before I ever got in front of a camera or was on television, I took the civil service exam for the NYPD because I considered a career path in law enforcement. I do think like a cop and I think now more than ever, considering what’s going on, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable in large, public places. I feel myself always scanning. My kids used to chide me about it, but now they get it. I tell them that you need to enjoy life, but you need to be really conscious and aware. We live in a world where you have to be vigilant to a certain degree, but without being paranoid of course.

Pop Culture Principle – The website So Many Shows says in its review of this season that Bosch season 5 has the grandeur of a feature film. Would you agree with that?

Titus Welliver – Yes and I’ve always felt that way about the show. The cinematography for the show is much bigger and broader than the standard fare that we see on television, which isn’t to minimize the quality that you see on other series. We just happen to be ten episodes, so we are allowed to tell our story without having to worry about rushing to the commercial break. The show is called Bosch, but L.A. is not the backdrop of the show, it’s a parallel character to Harry Bosch. They are synonymous to a certain degree because Harry is a genuine native son. In Michael’s books, you always know where you are. When I read Michael’s books, I can smell the food or I can smell the city and I know where I am. The art direction and the cinematography are all scoped out in a way that a feature film is. It’s such a well-oiled and artistic machine when it comes to the show.

Pop Culture Principle – For those who haven’t seen Season 5 of Bosch yet, what can they look forward to?

Titus Welliver – Well, the highest level of peril because we are seeing Harry in a scenario that we would not normally see him. He goes undercover and makes this decision in very short order and has to commit to it. He’s undercover with some seriously bad guys and he’s got no panic button or a flare gun, he is really on his own. The B stories that operate around Bosch are there also. Crate and Barrell are doing something, you have DuJuan and Irvin working something. We see Maddie is working at the Convictions Integrity Unit. You have Harry Bosch thrown into the batmobile with Honey Chandler which is crazy! There is a lot going on and it’s not convoluted in any way which all due to the amazing work of the writers on Bosch. Season 5 of Bosch is a hell of a ride!

We would like to thank Titus Welliver for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us. The fifth season of Bosch is now streaming on Amazon!

**All photos courtesy of Aaron Epstein /Amazon Prime Video**

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