Titus Welliver’s ‘Bosch’ character is a Dodgers fan. In real life, he’s Red Sox all the way
HOLLYWOOD — If you know Harry Bosch, then you know the titular hero of the television series about a hard-bitten Los Angeles homicide detective is rooting for the Dodgers in the World Series.
If you know Titus Welliver, then you know the veteran actor whose portrayal of Bosch is so on-point you would never guess his roots are pure New England is rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series.
And if you know anything about the passion of sports and the depth of childhood loyalty, then you know that no matter how much the worlds of fantasy and reality collide here in Hollywood, no matter how much one can fall in love with an adopted city and a career-defining role, there are certain corners of the heart that can never be replaced.
Bosch be damned, Welliver is pulling for Boston.
That’s what the 57-year-old actor tells me here in Los Angeles, where the magic of Twitter managed to connect one devoted reader and watcher of the Bosch series (me) to the outstanding star of the show currently filming its fifth season for Amazon Prime (him). When I replied to Welliver’s tweet congratulating the Sox after their Game 2 win in Fenway Park with the obvious question, “Shouldn’t Bosch be a Dodgers fan?” his quick, witty reply, “That’s Bosch. Titus wears Red Sox,” didn’t merely open one of the most unexpected and enjoyable conversations I’ve been part of, but revealed a regular line of conversation Welliver finds himself having on the left coast.
“I was out [Thursday morning] and I was head to toe Red Sox, hat, green monster shirt, and I was getting a lot of ‘F-Us’ out the window from people. One guy was like, ‘we’re going to crush you,’ ” Welliver said. “Then he recognized me and said, ‘it’s Detective Bosch, sorry!’ And then he said ‘Bosch is a Dodger fan!’
“But I’m Titus. I’m not repping the brand right now, I’m repping my team, which is the Boston Red Sox. Do damage. Dirty Water. Sweet Caroline. I love it all.”
How he got here, working on this pre-Game 3 Friday afternoon on a downtown LA set, trading barbs with cast and crew about the vintage Red Sox hat he carries with him (a gift from a crew member who said it belonged to his grandfather) while so many of them are decked out in Dodgers swag, is a great Hollywood tale in itself. A peripatetic childhood saw the Wellivers travel from New Haven, where Titus was born, down to New York and Philadelphia, and up to Boston, with different loyalties born of different geographies.
But as young Titus found himself annoyed by two brothers he considered insufferable Yankee fans, he chose the role of contrarian (as well as following the example of their father Neil) and picked the Sox. That wasn’t always easy while the family was in New York (not that it stopped him from wearing Sox gear or stunted his willingness to challenge anyone who gave him a hard time about those sartorial choices), but later, his faith was rewarded.
When he headed to Maine for boarding school and his mom, Norma, settled in Boston to be closer to him, summers at home meant endless days at Fenway Park, buying cheap tickets, climbing the old Gilbey’s gin sign, walking from the apartment at Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. and finding a second home among the Fenway faithful.
“I became deeply immersed in all things Red Sox,” he said. “I would go by myself. It was my thing. Boston sort of, for me, it all starts there, in that same summer. I was like 12 or 13 years old, and my mom said, ‘you need to do something.’ She signed me up for an acting class for kids, at the actor’s workshop, which was basically two blocks from Yawkey Way. I’m like, ‘I don’t know about that,’ but I went the first day and I was hooked. That’s where I got bitten by the acting bug.”
Like twin strands of a double helix, this is his DNA. He never stopped acting, and he never stopped rooting. Tickets to the nascent North American Soccer League, where he cheered for the Minutemen (and once, took a shot to the face from visiting star Pele, who would apologize by giving him an autographed soccer ball), trips to the old Boston Garden, skates in the model of Bobby Orr (he still has them), and a jump shot modeled after those dominant Celtics’ rosters. Of course the bumbling Patriots would eventually catch up to the championship party, too, and Welliver loves them all. Just as much as he loves the city, the one that feels most like home, where he returned to film two of fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck’s movies, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” the latter of which put him in the bowels of Fenway Park to film a famous shootout scene.
“When I go there, it feels like home,” he said. “At my core I’m a New Englander. It all kind of comes back to my excitement for being a longtime diehard fan of the Sox and seeing them through the peaks and the valleys, and seeing them now operating on this kind of, I don’t know, magic. Some weird magic. I don’t want to diminish it by projecting, I want to be present in the moment, but I think they’re going to win it. I’m sharing the excitement that everybody in Boston is feeling. It’s a great time and I’m so happy for all the players and management and upstairs and everyone. There’s an energy there, I felt it when I was in the park.”
That would have been a late-season game against Toronto, when Welliver was on the East Coast and able to attend a game with two of his three children (one of his sons, Quinn, plays young Bosch on the series), when he heard the reverse accusations from fans in LA, called out for having joined Bosch author Michael Connelly to throw out a pitch at Dodgers Stadium. He can’t win — chided in LA for his love of the Sox, chided in Boston for his identification with LA.
Look at it this way: That is Harry Bosch. Having read every Bosch book before the series aired I can attest to how perfectly the role was cast. When it comes to inhabiting the skin of this character, of understanding Hollywood’s dark undercurrent of failed dreams and Harry’s complicated backdrop of broken promises, this is a perfect match of actor and part.
But remember this: This is Titus Welliver. When it comes to sports, there is no other city. It’s Boston all the way.