Titus Welliver gets personal about Harry Bosch at SCAD aTVfest 2019.
Titus Welliver recently joined his fellow Bosch castmates at the 7th annual SCAD aTVfest in Atlanta, Georgia. Fans were treated to a special screening of the show’s season 5 premiere. Before the episode played, I had the opportunity to talk with Titus one on one about his excitement for the new season and when Harry Bosch is most “present”.
Before we began talking about season 5, I shared a little gift with our leading man. I told Titus that in addition to writing the “investigative” recaps for the Bosch episodes at Fan Fest, I also host the Everybody Counts Podcast dedicated to the Amazon Prime original series. I then handed him a set of custom trading cards I made with some of my Bosch fan art.
Titus recognized the sketches from social media, which initiated a walk down memory lane about our favorite trading cards growing up. It also reminded me how prolific Welliver’s resume is as he recalled several shows he was part of that did indeed produce trading cards.
Tracey Phillipps: I made trading cards for some of the Bosch characters.
Titus Welliver: I love these. Oh, it’s so good to meet you in person.
TP: It’s very nice to meet you.
Titus: Oh, it’s so cool. Great. Can I keep these?
TP: Oh, they’re for you, they’re yours, yes. I have a big pocketful.
Titus: Awesome, that’s so cool. Thank you.
TP: I think Bosch is worthy of trading cards and much more.
Titus: It would be cool to do trading cards. I’ve done them for other stuff. I did trading cards for Lost and for Grimm and for Agents of Shield. When I was a kid, trading cards were huge. I had them all. Planet of the Apes, Kung Fu, Batman and Robin.
TP: I had Grease and Charlie’s Angels.
Titus: Well, you’re about 30 years younger than I am.
TP: (laughing) I don’t think so!
Titus: But I think it would be cool to do trading cards. People want action figures, and of course I’m a big action figure person, so I’m very much for it.
TP: Didn’t they make a Harry Bosch action figure?
Titus: Rocco Tartamella did a statue. He did a polyresin statue, which turned out great. But they’re not out for sale, you can’t go to the store and buy them.
TP: I remember seeing that on Twitter. It looked really cool.
Titus: But I’m always working that angle. People have done some customized, personally customized made-up figures on their own. It’s pretty cool, and the fan art is always really interesting to see, because people kind of take it and run with it. It’s really fun to see how they come up with the stuff.
TP: I hope you feel honored by it.
Titus: Oh, completely.
TP: Fans are so passionate.
Titus: Oh, I’m very, very flattered by it. And I think it’s cool for the show. And I have, actually, a fair amount of it. People, every year, do some sort of their own personalized season poster. So I’m always sending them to Mike [Connelly] and going “This is cool, this is cool”. But we have good artwork [for the show]. Actually, I’ve seen some mock-ups of this season’s art.
TP: We’re all itching to see it as well.
Titus: Yeah, I think [in the near future], don’t quote me on this since I’m not entirely sure, I think the trailer will be coming out.
TP: Oh, that’s always exciting. We do a whole podcast episode breaking down the trailer, making predictions, and we get so excited.
Titus: It’s funny, because I always say, people read the books, but when we do adaptations of the books, it’s never a straight adaptation. And so, of course, when we announced that we were doing [the novel] Two Kinds of Truth, people went, “Oh, great great great.” Now, in the chronology, Harry is 64. He’s well into his retirement. But, the thing about Harry is that he’ll never really retire. He’s still working cases for San Fernando. So obviously, we lifted the case and circumstances and some of the characters from Two Kinds of Truth. It’s really good.
TP: I’m so excited.
Titus: It came out really well. It’s my favorite Bosch book. So, when they said that’s what we’re going to do, I was very excited. There’s a lot, you know. It’s Harry, it’s Harry undercover, in a kind of half-assed, unsanctioned way. He does it, you know, it’s the way Harry kind of comes up with it and says “I’ve got to go”.
And he bails. So, what’s interesting is, J. Edgar always has his back, but in these circumstances, Harry has no cell phone, he has no panic button, he has no gun, he has no badge, et cetera, et cetera. The level of peril that he’s dealing with is very, very high. And Jerry can’t get hold of him. And Maddie can’t get hold of him. Billets is saying to Jerry, “Where’s Harry?” And he says, “I don’t know.”
Then Harry’s under[cover] with really, really bad guys. Guys who are kind of sadists. Not just bad guys, these guys are really sadistic.
TP: Are you going to have the cane?
TP: Will there be some Cisco interaction?
Titus: Yeah, we had to change things. That gets tricky, because the Cisco character is tied up with the “Lincoln Lawyer”. So, the thing was, how do we deal with Harry? Harry’s going to need representation in dealing with the Preston Borders case, which it gets re-opened. So the way that we tackle that is that Bosch deals with [attorney Honey] Chandler. And then her investigator is a “Cisco”-esque character, played beautifully by Ryan Hurst, who is an old colleague of mine from Sons of Anarchy and a good friend. And he came in and just killed it.
Titus: We have Bess Armstrong. She came in this season.
TP: Oh, wow.
Titus: Bess was incredible. C. Thomas Howell came in. He played a veteran who’s working with the pill shill guys. We’re just kind of blessed in that way. I think it speaks to the writing of the show, that actors see the show and want to come and do it, because they know A) they’re going to have good stuff to do, and B) that they’re also going to have a good time.
TP: Well Mimi Rogers kind of teased her return because on the podcast, you and Honey Chandler won the “Most Unconventional Partnership” award for season 4. So she sent a little response to us, and she teased that we were going to see more of her.
Titus: Well, very much so. And what’s cool about it is that their circumstances dictate that it becomes sort of the logical thing for Harry. I mean, if you’re gonna hire a lawyer, then you wanna hire the best lawyer, and Chandler’s really the best lawyer, despite the fact that there’s that history there.
TP: I love how complicated it is. It’s powerful, but it’s complicated, it’s just very rich.
Titus: Well, you remember in the fourth season, in the Angels Flight season, she was appointed the Special Master. And we saw her kind of really trying to reign him in, and control him, and there’s already the history. I mean, it was bad enough that she brought into court the whole backstory of his mother, but it was also exploited and used in a way against him. So you saw at the end of season four, when Harry handed off the thumb drive, she says, “I misjudged you.” And Harry never comments on it, because I think Harry’s thing is, “I was never a bad guy and I was never a dirty cop. And you did misjudge me. You greatly misjudged me. I’m a good person, and I’m good at what I do.”
And the thing is, that action, the impetus for that action, to give the thumb drive, is not being done as some way to try to fend off some sort of breakdown in the city. It’s the right thing to do. And that’s the thing about Harry, is that when it comes to the pursuit of justice, despite the fact that he may go in a circuitous route, his moral compass is in tact. This is a cop who would never plant evidence, who would never beat a confession out of someone. He’ll get you, and he might be circuitous, and he might bend the rules, but he’s not corrupt. He’s incorruptible, and that’s very much tested and exploited in this season. So, it will be interesting to hear what everybody says after they see it because I feel like we raise the bar every season.
TP: You guys say that every season, but it’s true. It happens, it really does.
Titus: It really worked out.
TP: I am anxious to see how, with Harry having solved his mother’s murder, how that might impact Harry’s work. He had this powerful resolve to find her killer that just kept pushing him. And I’m anxious to see if there’s any change now.
Titus: You know, that’s the thing about Harry. I always say this isn’t a character who has any kind of big broad stroke epiphany, or emotional evolution. The evolution with him kind of happens within circumstances. He’s still the same guy now that he was in the first season.
Circumstances have changed. I say that always comes back to his relationship to Maddie. Harry and Maddie’s relationship has really become the central pulse of the show, no matter what, and we were very fortunate that we kind of, first, struck gold in casting Madison. We sort of felt like we had lightning in a bottle. And Madison and I work so well together and have such a really good rapport. It’s not the “Father Knows Best” relationship, it’s a very-
TP: It feels very natural.
Titus: It’s very real, it’s very grounded.
TP: It’s very authentic.
Titus: Very authentic. So you never see it and go, “Aw, it’s so [sappy]” because there’s always something there. And she’s dealing with a lot, she’s working for the DA’s office in this season, and Harry’s kind of like, you know, “Good luck with that.” And she’s got a guy that she’s seeing, and then there are trust issues that come up. Harry goes undercover, and he’s not really completely transparent with her about the level of peril that he’s dealing with, and so, of course, her most paranoid fantasy comes true. He goes missing.
So, that relationship is really the pulse and the heart of the show now. That’s what we’re able to do. We can bounce it off of that, always bounce it off of that relationship. And I think, in that regard, that’s what keeps that level of humanity that allows people to identify with Harry. They’re like, “Yeah, he’s a real guy.” He’s a real guy, you know, warts and all. But you like him because, despite the fact that he’s not the best person or the most socially adept person, that when he’s with his child, that’s when you see the internal side.
TP: You see the most vulnerability, for sure.
Titus: Yeah, you see all that vulnerability. That’s the one time when Harry is not obtuse and is not withdrawn. When he’s with Maddie, he’s 100% present. And he’s not that way with anyone else.
SCAD aTVfest produces a wonderful festival each year celebrating and educating about all the work that goes into making great television. I am so pleased that SCAD invited Bosch to participate this year.
Thank you to Titus Welliver for a fantastic conversation. Stay tuned to Amazon Prime Video for news about the release of Bosch season 5.
Writer, interviewer in metro Atlanta. Always ready to talk TV and movies. Wife, mom, special needs advocate.