December 3, 2011
Name: Titus Welliver.
First Noticed As: The most psychopathic, and least dull-witted, of Al Swearingen’s rogues’ gallery of henchmen in Deadwood.
(Maybe) Most Famous As: The Man in Black, the human incarnation of the island’s great unexplained evil, on Lost. Welliver was an inspired choice, because his somber mien added shades of wisdom and regret to the, y’know, evil. When the show’s labored metaphysics required one of the regulars (the equally great Terry O’Quinn) to take over for Welliver, it was a loss.
The Tilt: Every good character actor needs a reliable mannerism or two. Welliver’s is the meaningful head-tilt (see above); the more extreme the angle, the more serious the moment.
Sam Elliott Called and Wants His Voice Back: Welliver’s great asset is is unexpectedly deep, rangy, moody voice, which can make even the dumbest line sound like a quote from Steinbeck or Twain. Some producers like to cast him as furriners, and Welliver does the accents competently – as an Irish gun peddler on Sons of Anarchy, for instance – but I think he’s less interesting when he’s suppressing that grand American baritone.
Lately Seen In: The Town, in the classic #2-cop-who-follows-around-the-big-deal-detective-looking-impressed role, and The Good Wife, as scumbag state’s attorney Glenn Childs. The latter is almost a stock villain, and I hope Welliver doesn’t settle in as TV’s go-to bad guy. He has more soul than that.