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Titus Welliver discusses David Milch

Titus: When Deadwood … David came to Yale .. I was living in Connecticut at the time … and he called me up and said, “I’m gonna show ‘Deadwood’ at Yale to the writing students and the drama students. And I want you to come up and do a Q&A,” because I’d worked with him. He wanted me to talk about the processes as an actor since he was going to read scripts and everything … So they were having a screening at the law school auditorium, and as we were walking up to the auditorium David said, “You know, I originally started out here at the law school before I got kicked out.” And I said, “You got kicked out?” And he said, “Yeah – all behind some stupid gun fight with the New Haven police.” David had taken about four hits of brown microdot acid, and had a gun and was shooting street lights out. And the thing that … it wasn’t so much the gun that got him in trouble – it was the conversation with the cop, which when they were getting ready to take him into custody and David said, “I refuse to continue this conversation until your badge stops melting.” They locked him up. They locked him up.

Richard Gant: So you’re beginning to see now.

Earl Brown: Your dad ... tell them ... your dad was friends with David.

Titus: Yeah – my father (American landscape painter Neil Welliver) was a professor. He ran the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Yale at the time. And so David … they had a lot of friends … colleagues. So my dad knew David a bit then, and they reconnected when David and I did “Brooklyn South” (a TV series in 1997-98) and my father came out to visit me. They hadn’t seen each other since the days and so stories started getting thrown around, some of them that I’d never heard about my father. It was pretty interesting.

Earl: Your dad … tell them ... your dad was friends with David (Milch).

Titus: Yeah – my father (American landscape painter Neil Welliver) was a professor. He ran the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Yale at the time. And so David … they had a lot of friends … colleagues. So my dad knew David a bit then, and they reconnected when David and I did “Brooklyn South” (a TV series in 1997-98) and my father came out to visit me. They hadn’t seen each other since the days and so stories started getting thrown around, some of them that I’d never heard about my father. It was pretty interesting. He’s a very … he’s a complex but one of the most generous people that I certainly have ever encountered in show business, and he’s kind of an anomaly in that way. And I think everybody will agree here that, you know, as strong a writer as David is he’s very inclusive of the process – sort of allowing you to kind of find your way with the character. He’s open to suggestions – to a certain degree. There’s a lot of times when you’ll say, “How about if I wear purple shoes?” and David will say, “No.”

Titus: Yeah – the funeral itself – standing outside …

Sean Bridgers: For three days …

Earl: Three days – standing there outside the boy’s house.

Titus: Which was supposed to be, you know, a day.

Paula Malcomson: A day …

Jim Beaver: It’s really fun when somebody else – one guy – has all the lines. Everybody else is just standing there.

Titus: And we all try to figure out ways how to get out of having to be there.

Earl: Yeah.

Titus: Which is amazing to watch actors …

Paula: I did.

Titus: … try to come up with story points for their characters. “I don’t think … you know …”

Paula: “I wouldn’t be here.”

Titus: “… my character would be so completely distraught that he wouldn’t want to attend the child’s funeral.” And they’re looking at like, “Adams would have a problem?” Needless to say, the three of us (pointing to Sean and Earl – all three play Al Swearengen’s henchmen) didn’t get out of it. ’Cause we kept saying, “Well, we’re actually … we’re going to Chinamen’s alley …”

Earl: Yeah.

Titus: “… ’cause we have some business to take care of.” And they just sort of stood there and let us, you know – flog ourselves.

 

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