Watching Titus Welliver in action on Amazon Prime drama Bosch, you’d think he was born to play the part of top thriller writer Michael Connelly’s detective.
However, as anyone who reads the books will tell you, Connolly’s Bosch is different to the Harry Bosch we encounter on the screen.
Gone are the familiar moustache and flashy suit from the novels, while profanity is used far more sparingly and to greater effect – all personal choices by Welliver, working alongside Connelly.
The world of Bosch remains suitably hard-boiled though, helped by the presence of showrunner Eric Overmyer, who previously worked on The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street.
Welliver is a familiar TV face from turns in shows like Lost and Deadwood. And now the 55-year-old has finally found a lead role to really sink his teeth into.
And having been through what he calls the “Goldilocks process” of trying out different styles in the show’s first season, Welliver is ready to take things up a notch this time around.
“If you saw this show on network television, the distillation would leave it baring no resemblance to the books”
Loaded: After the success of the first season, do you feel like you had a bit more freedom with Bosch this time round?
Welliver: Yes. In the first season, we were able to establish the character. From a performance standpoint, I also feel like I now know him well enough that we didn’t have to try to reinvent him. We all know who Bosch is and all that is different this time is the circumstances.
Being on Amazon has given us a lot more freedom to explore the character and the story, though. If you saw this show on network television, the distillation would leave Bosch baring no resemblance to the books as it would need to be so sterilised.
Loaded: So what has changed since we last saw Bosch?
Welliver: Even though we find this guy six months after a long-term suspension, for throwing his captain through the window, not much has changed. The only difference is that he is now a bit keener to keep his head down.
But he comes back and circumstances present themselves whereby Harry has a nanosecond of reflection before going back to being the guy he always has been – the guy in pursuit of the case.
Loaded: The first season was pretty dark in places – are things going to get even darker this time around?
Welliver: Definitely. Things are getting much darker. The level of peril Bosch is dealing with has gone up considerably. He’s dealing with organised crime with the Armenian and Russian mob and they do not play by the rules.
They are sophisticated career criminals who don’t have any qualms about killing a cop – there is no cosa nostra here – and they ultimately don’t care. What we soon find is that Harry’s ex-wife and daughter are thrown into the mix and it gets very personal.
“Jeri is such a good actress. I actually worked with her years ago on Star Trek and I do not think people have seen her play a character like this before”
Loaded: There are some interesting developments for Irving’s son, George, who was an notable figure in the last series – can you tell us more?
Welliver: Because of the politics of things, Chief Irving (Lance Reddick) has arranged for his son, George, to be working a desk job as a fast track to command or so his mother is led to believe.
What he is actually doing is undercover work for a larger investigation by Internal Affairs over a cop who they believe is dirty and George is partnered with him.
So, there is the worry and trepidation of a father who knows his son is dealing with dirty cops and has to be careful but is allowing his son to do things on his own terms.
There is much more of Lance in this series and what is going on with him. He is dancing in the political arena with the mayoral elections and his relationship with his son is played beautifully.
Loaded: What was it like working with Jeri Ryan?
Welliver: Jeri is such a good actress. I actually worked with her years ago on Star Trek (Ryan played the borg Nine on Star Trek Voyager) and I do not think people have seen her play a character like this before.
In Bosch, she is something of a throwback to that quintessential Veronica Lake film noir femme fatale, without it being too much on the nose. I think Jeri gets to use some artistic muscles on Bosch that maybe she hasn’t had the opportunity to use in the past.
Loaded: Do you see Bosch as being influenced by some of those noir sensibilities?
Welliver: The noir aspect is definitely present. Bosch is constantly encountering the dark seedy underbelly of LA. It’s that kind of Hollywood façade where the characters exist in a sort of dichotomy between heaven and hell.
It’s the same façade that exists in Las Vegas which Bosch visits this season except, while the lights are bigger and brighter, things are also much seedier and that same underbelly that lurks under the surface is even darker.
Loaded: Did Eric Overmyer bring a sense of authenticity to proceedings?
Welliver: Yes but with a more unique twist. We take an entire season for Harry to work a case, so rather than it being in an episodic format, each episode is more like a chapter in a book.
It’s not Dragnet, we don’t do any voiceover narration. Eric keeps things authentic by keeping the story as grounded as possible, rather than have Bosch have something like a weapon that never needs reloading.
You won’t find Bosch doing backflips – this isn’t The Matrix. People bleed, people run out of breath, they get hurt and they are knocked out with a punch.
“producers are taking a closer look at source material and saying: ‘we can do this because people will hang in and access it like the reading of a book'”
Loaded: Do you think more TV adaptations are taking a novelistic approach now?
Welliver: We’ve seen with the success of Game Of Thrones and The Man In The High Castle that you can take a literary source and have it pay off as a TV adaptation.
I think television producers are taking a closer look at source material and saying ‘We can do this, because people will hang in and access it like the reading of a book.’ That’s why binge watching works so well for this. If you go to buy a book, you don’t come in on a Monday and say ‘I’ll take the first two chapters and come back next week’, which is what you’re forced to do with network TV.
It works well and what I have discovered from social media is that the percentage of people who have completed the second season within a matter of days is considerably high. Sometimes you do not want to just suck the sweet, you want to bite through to the centre, I guess.
When I read the Michael Connelly books, I usually have to be on a beach or where I can enjoy an uninterrupted period, because when I start reading them I don’t want to stop.
Loaded: Do you work with Michael Connelly much?
Welliver: I speak to him all the time. He was on the set every day and directly involved in every aspect. I consider him a very close friend and someone I defer to. If I have an idea, I like to approach him with it and see what he thinks.
In the very last scene of the second series, for example, there is a song by Foo Fighers called Home – I’m a huge Foo Fighters fan.
I was listening to it on a beach in Mexico and had this epiphany for an idea for a scene in the show. I pitched it to Michael. He liked it, took the idea and reconfigured it in a different way.
We ended up using the music too and so many people on social media, friends and family who have seen it have all commented on that music.
Michael is very collaborative. He absorbs ideas and is very open to my own suggestions for the character like ditching the suit.
Loaded: Jason Geddrick was the big baddie of last season – how are you going to up the ante this time around?
Welliver: Several characters fill that void. It is a different, much bigger, group. There isn’t just one. As with the first season, Eric and Michael have interwoven a couple of stories so there are a few more players.
Things have got bigger and as those things unfold, you realise it is a much larger picture Bosch is dealing with. Even he realises. But, like he always does, he puts his head down and just moves forward, doing what he does. And it makes for some good storytelling.
Bosch is available to download and stream from Amazon Prime right now.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.