Titus Welliver may be known to Lost fans as the ominous “Man in Black,” and to others for tough-faced parts in Supernatural, Grimm, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, and Ben Affleck-directed movies Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and now Argo, but in Gus Van Sant’s new film Promised Land, he plays a regular guy store owner, a refreshing change for Welliver.
The movie, starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, has shone a spotlight on the continued debate surrounding hydraulic fracking – an environmentally controversial method of extracting natural gas from the ground that has prompted energy companies to buy drilling rights in rural towns such as the one at the heart of the movie. Damon plays Steve, a company guy who arrives in the small farming town with his co-worker Sue (Frances McDormand) to get landowners to sign off drilling rights to their land. Welliver plays Rob, the owner of an aptly-named local store called Rob’s Guns, Groceries, Guitars and Gas, who strikes up a flirtation with Sue, and is less overtly direct about his own stance on fracking.
Welliver, though, is very clear. He’s anti-fracking, but also sees the movie as a Frank Capra-esque look at the human relationships involved, more than politics. As well, in the midst of promoting the movie, the gravel-voiced actor has been dealing with the devastating loss of his wife, producer Elizabeth W. Alexander, who died from complications due to breast cancer in October. Now a single father to their 6-year-old daughter, and two sons from a previous relationship, Welliver spoke to EW frankly and emotionally about Alexander, her firm belief in him being involved in Promised Land even while she was sick, about the controversy over fracking, and working with both Damon and Affleck, hopefully for years to come.
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