The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Titus Welliver

15 Jul

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these, but I was raised out of my stupor by a true TV that-guy, the wonderfully-named Titus Welliver.  I had been discussing Welliver with a friend recently, and then, upon watching the first episode of The Good Wife, saw that he popped up again.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Inspiration?  Certainly.  Let’s pay the good Mr. Welliver the respect he deserves with a true Ivanek tribute.

Welliver, born in 1961, made his first TV appearance in 1990 with a role in TV movie The Lost Capone and in an episode of Matlock.  He then appeared in episodes of L.A. Law, Beverly Hills, 90210, The Commish, and Tales from the Crypt, along with TV movies An American Story and One Woman’s Courage.  Welliver then guest starred in X-Files episode “Darkness Falls,” as an ecoterrorist who, along with loggers, tries to avoid a killer swarm of green insects which escaped when an extremely old tree was cut down.  Welliver is dead by the end of the episode.  He appeared in episodes of New York Undercover, Kindred: The Embraced, and High Incident, as well as HBO TV movie Blind Justice, before appearing in three episodes of Murder One.  He followed this with episodes of Nash Bridges, Spy Game, The Practice, and TV movies Rough Riders and The Day Lincoln Was Shot.  In 1995, he was introduced to Steven Bochco with a recurring role in eight episodes of NYPD Blue as Dr. Mondzac.

Bochco would give him his first shot at a starring role in 1997.  He played Officer Jack Lowery in the one season of Bochco cop show Brooklyn South, which had the distinction of airing the first TV-M rated episode ever.  His character, as Wikipedia describes, was, “a tough street cop coping with personal demons which included his selfish and nagging wife, Yvonne, who died early in the season,” After the show was cancelled, Welliver finished out the decade appearing in episodes of Total Recall: The Series (doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry), Star Trek: Voyager, and Touched by an Angel, as well as in TV movie Mind Prey.

He got a couple of quick starring chances early in the next decade, as a regular on eight episode Ed O’Neill starrer Big Apple, and as second season character in what I-can’t-believe-lasted-two seasons-since-I-don’t-remember-it-at-all dramedy That’s Life, which starred Paul Sorvino, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Dillon and Debi Mazar.  Before his next big role, he appeared in episodes of UC: Undercover, Third Watch, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Twilight Zone, Hack, and in mini-series Blonde about Marilyn Monroe, as Joe DiMaggio.  He picked up his next major role in 2004 in David Milch’s Deadwood.  His role is not extremely major, but he plays Silas Adams, one of villainous Al Swearengen’s primary and smartest henchmen.  He appears in the majority of the episodes of the show.  He has a rivalry with fellow henchman Dan Dority, but saves Dan’s life from a Chinese man with a knife at the end of the second season, allowing them to reconsider their relationship.

The mid-2000s were a nomadic period for Welliver.  He appeared in episodes of Law & Order, Numb3rs, Kidnapped, Jericho, NCIS, Shark, Life, Prison Break, Monk, Raising the Bar, Kings, and Supernatural and TV movies Danny Fricke and True Blue.  He next played a small but crucial role in Lost as The Man in Black, one of the primary antagonists of the series.  Although Welliver only appeared in three episodes as the character, the role was a major one.  I’m not even going to try to explain the entire Lost Man in Black mythology because it makes no sense and I don’t understand it, but apparently he’s the representation of evil who needs to be kept on the island and he’s also the smoke monster and he also can appear as dead people like John Locke.  Jack kills him at the end after Desmond makes him mortal by pulling some plug in the heart of the island.  Sure, why not.

Welliver was the primary antagonist of the third season of motorcycle gang show Sons of Anarchy.  He played IRA kingpin gone rogue Jimmy O’Phelan.  He’s originally in charge of selling guns to the Sons, and has a complicated history with them, having kicked SAMCRO member Chibs out of the IRA and stolen his wife and daughter.  It turns out that he’s trying to screw over SAMCRO and the rest of the Real IRA.

In 2009, he also began his other major recurring role as new Cook County State’s Attorney in The Good Wife after titular good wife Julianna Margulies’ husband was forced to resign.  He appeared in 16 episodes in the first two seasons.  He’s still looking for a new longer-term home, but since those two shows, he’s appeared in The Closer, Law & Order: LA, Suits, TV movies Awakening and Good Morning, Killer, an episode of Grimm, and in the pilot episode and two others of Fox’s Touch.

Welliver’s TV work is diverse and prolific, and we induct him today into the Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame.

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3 Responses to “The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Titus Welliver”

  1. ff July 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    you forgot Falcone, one of his most stand out roles

  2. Sally July 15, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    http://titus-welliver.livejournal.com/202229.html

    I posted this on the Live Journal fan page. If you object, comment and I can remove.

  3. Beardface July 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    I don’t understand this “Man in Black”, can you explain him more in depth?

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