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Titus Welliver was once termed by The Daily Beast as “a journeyman actor whose name is more distinctive than celebrated.” They got the journeyman part right, but they could’ve added that he owns a face that’s even more distinctive than that singular moniker. It’s one that’s been virtually un-missable, given that he’s appeared in well over 100 film and TV roles, including a calculating bag man (Deadwood), an ominous smoke monster (Lost), a prick politician (The Good Wife), and an Irish gun kingpin (Sons of Anarchy).
If you’ve clocked a certain lack of bonhomie, slapstick, and general buffoonery on his resume, then maybe an actor’s real life etches some stuff on his psyche that directors are especially keen at sensing. Welliver’s experienced enough sadness and loss in his personal life to make it hard to trust happiness. But it made it easy for the producers of Amazon’s acclaimed Bosch to hand him the part of the series’ scarred, hard-nosed—and painfully vulnerable—L.A. detective. After Welliver left the audition, Michael Connelly, one of the show’s producers and the author of the books on which the series is based, said, “That was Harry Bosch.” So maybe it took 25 years to score the first lead role of his career, but Welliver’s dad cautioned him long ago about putting time limits on a career in the arts.
Welliver’s father Neil, a very well known painter, was long on advice. An accomplished painter himself, the younger Welliver started studying with his dad from age 12 and considered pursuing it professionally. As it often goes, growing up in the artistic overhang of a talented parent can define your career—either by setting you on the same path, or making you step off it pretty quickly. Though the relationship was fraught, it wasn’t without its gifts. When Welliver decided to pursue acting, his dad was supportive, but cautioned him that be it painting or acting, art is art, and art ain’t easy. The only reason to do it is because you love it—not for fame. Or to quote Welliver senior more specifically, “Work hard, and don’t be another dipshit actor.”
We’re pretty sure Welliver’s avoided that trap, and for the record, his world these days is not all moody concrete landscapes and flinty stares. He dotes on his kids, has recently (and successfully) returned to painting as a creative outlet, is working on his third Ben Affleck-directed film, and may just have a project of his own creation in the works. And, he loves being Bosch. The consummate hard worker, he of course read the novels to prepare for the role. The results of his investigation? “You can’t stop. You’ve got to know what happens next. It’s the best way to experience this world.”