Titus Welliver is one of the most underrated but familiar faces in film and television and could be about to play a major part in the future of Marvel productions. The intense actor features as one half of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. duo of Agent’s Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez, read the interview with him here) and Blake in Marvel’s latest One-Shot ITEM 47, which you’ll be able to catch on the UK DVD and Blu-ray release of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. He’s co-starred in as versatile projects as the action-packed ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 remake, this years crime-thriller MAN ON A LEDGE and my personal all-time favourite televisison series DEADWOOD, not forgetting the Ben Affleck-directed trio of GONE BABY GONE, THE TOWN and forthcoming ARGO.
Now in an exclusive interview with THN, Welliver talks about his new role in the new Marvel short film, working with Ben Affleck for a third time, forthcoming projects as well as his chances of returning to the Marvel universe.
You’re new to the Marvel universe. Could you tell us how you were approached for ITEM 47?
Well, I got a call from my manager saying that they was a top secret Marvel project and that’s all I needed to hear. I’ll do it! I’m a big comic-book fan, more specifically a Marvel fan so I signed on blindly. It was something that I knew would be fun. That’s how it started and it’s something I wouldn’t normally do but you say Marvel I say, yes! Yes!
Did you feel it was a role that would need researching and is that something you would normally do for your roles?
Well, not really, once I knew what it was. I was a big Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. reader and fan as a kid. I think I was even Nick Fury for Halloween so yeah, I was a huge fan and really knowing the Marvel universe from the mid-sixties up until the late-seventies when I tapered off but I was pretty well versed in the universe and the role that S.H.I.E.L.D. played in that whole world, THE AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA and all that and also Nick Fury’s own comic that he had as well. I got pretty thrilled and Clark Gregg was one of my classmates at NYU and a roommate of mine so I always hounding him that I was terribly jealous that he was in S.H.I.E.L.D and Sam Jackson is a good friend as well and he was playing Nick Fury, so that’s as far as research went. They were sort of teasing me a bit as they were shooting it. ‘You seem to know quite a bit‘ the Marvel guys were saying and ‘oh you’re familiar with this‘ and I’d say I’m more than familiar, I’m a big geek!
Do you approach something lighter like ITEM 47 differently than say your more serious roles in DEADWOOD, THE TOWN or GONE BABY GONE?
It was definitely lighter but the thing that I like about Marvel is the way they approach the films in their adaptations from the comics is you have to make those things believable, and high concept right. Kind of unbelievable, as we don’t live in a world with superheroes to firmly plant your feel in a world of reality but there was a lightness which was fun for me to play that character because he’s sorta like Walter Mitty. He’s the old Agent who wants to be out in the field, he doesn’t want to be in front of a computer screen so he’s envious that he’s basically a slip handler at this point and it was so much fun.
Does that fun aspect transfer onto the set also?
Absolutely. There was a great lightness and Louis D’Esposito who directed it, is warm and welcoming and enthusiastically so. The whole environment knew we were here to make something really entertaining and it was really fun with a great likeness there as well. It was pure fun.
Could we expect your character Agent Blake to return in any future Marvel projects?
Well I would certainly like that. I know there was a recent announcement that Joss Whedon is going to do a S.H.I.E.L.D. television series so I’ve been getting lots of people asking me a lot of questions about that but honestly I don’t have any answers but if it was my decision, I would love to have Agent Blake to start popping up in some of the films or television show. I would be more than happy to do that and as a child having played ‘Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, which I’ve been doing my whole life right (laughs). So I have the training behind me! I have great hopes for that, it’s a pretty broad universe. I think they have to find a place to put me in but you have to wait for them to figure out how they’re going to do that.
Can we ask you to touch upon working with Ben Affleck having featuring in all three of his directorial efforts?
Of course. Obviously I did GONE BABY GONE which was my first film with him. The experience was one of my favourite experiences working with a director. He’s also a writer and actor obviously of enormous talent so when Ben is doing a film, it’s when and where! I just think he’s an extraordinary gifted guy. He chooses very smart and interesting material. The first two film being Boston-set films (the other being THE TOWN), people just thought he understands that place and that world. ARGO is an enormous departure from that. It has a much broader scope and is based on a true story but you’ll still find all the aspects on display of Ben’s talent as a writer, director and an actor. He really pulls it off and I don’t know how he does it. He’s gotta lot of hats to wear and nothing suffers and it’s also just a great pleasure. He always assembles really, really wonderful casts, people and the environment created and one that is really collaborative and very open. So I always look forward to working with him.
Aside from ARGO which is coming up soon, could you tell us what we can expect to see you in, in the future?
I just finished a film in June with Matt Damon entitled PROMISED LAND. Matt and John Krasinski wrote it together and Gus Van Sant directed it. I co-star with Matt and John and Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook and it’s a pretty large cast. It has great story because it’s really about the issue we face right now with this hydro-fracking. Within that framework is a story about people and how they navigate the idea of making a lot of money when things aren’t exactly how they seem on the surface. It’s about people going through changes and how they perceive things or what the truths the ideals are that they have, how they change as things unfold. That was an incredible experience. Gus obviously, I have to say what an amazingly talented director he is. Matt, John and Frances, the experience of working with those actors was a great experience. Also it’s a departure from me and Matt and not having to put anybody in handcuffs or sort anybody out and that was nice, it was a nice departure. 90 percent of my scenes are with Frances McDormand, who goes without saying is a talented actor to work with. I learned a great deal working with her, Matt and under the guidance of Gus who is just a wonderful director and human being. Just a really wonderful experience.
Going back to ITEM 47 and a question which I asked your co-star Maximiliano Hernandez with both of you guys being comic-book fans. Who was your favourite superhero growing up?
My favourite superhero….mmmm….Spider-man! It’s hard as there are a lot but it would definitely have to be Spider-man.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE is released on DVD and Blu-ray 17th September and will include the terrific Marvel One-Shot ITEM 47.