Titans' Showrunner Shares Big Praise For Titus Welliver's Debut As Lex Luthor In Season 4

lex luthor in Titans Season 4
(Image credit: HBO Max)

When Titans makes its return to HBO Max just over a year after Season 3 wrapped up, the comic book series will take on another iconic DC villain with its version of Superman’s super-foe Lex Luthor, and he’s noted as being the only person Bruce Wayne is afraid of. Titus Welliver, of Bosch and Sons of Anarchy fame, is taking on the role for Season 4, and while fans have only seen a little bit of the character via trailer footage, showrunner Greg Walker shared some huge praise for the actor with CinemaBlend while also talking about how surprisingly easily the show landed him.

Having seen the first handful of Titans' Season 4 installments, I asked Greg Walker about the importance of bringing Welliver in for such a big role as Lex Luthor, and before he could even address the answer directly, the showrunner shared a heaping load of praise for the actor's work. In his words:

Yeah, it's funny, because I keep on going back to those episodes and looking at effects. And often when you go back, you're like, 'Oh, I should have added more here,' or 'We cut that weird.' But you know, at some point, you get so deep in the process, you can't go back and re-cut. And I never feel bad about looking at Titus' stuff. I always feel like he's just so dead on in every way. It was such a gift to have him on the show.

I can attest to the fact that Titus Welliver brings a similar gravitas to the role of Lex as Esai Morales brought as Deathstroke, but with a far larger ego and sense of his own accomplishments. I don't think anyone would expect any version of Lex to fall into comparisons to, say, Paul Dano's The Riddler in Matt Reeves' The Batman, and Welliver doesn't defy those expectations. Instead, he helps Titans to kick off its fourth season with some big stakes. 

Speaking of high-pressure stakes, Greg Walker then reversed course a bit to talk about how the Titans team landed on Welliver as the prime choice, saying:

So backing up, when we decided that we wanted to do a Lex story, and have Lex be a part of the season, we knew we weren't going to get him for very many episodes, and we knew we wanted to go big impact. . . . So in doing that, we really wanted to cast an actor who would really land that character. And Greg Berlanti, who's a genius in casting, I reached out and I think he made the suggestion of Titus. I've been a Titus fan for I'm embarrassed to say how long, but decades, and knew of him and followed his work, and really knew him from Bosch and was a huge fan. What I loved about him was his gravity, and his economy of expression. He's very simple and focused, but he conveys a world of feeling and emotion.

Titus Welliver is one of those actors who doesn't need to bounce between opposite ends of the performative spectrum to deliver effective and superb performances, which is a testament to his inherent watchability, considering how many roles he's had in his lengthy career. All hail Deadwood's Silas Adams. 

In any case, the actor enjoyed a short stint within Marvel's live-action projects as Agent Blake for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the one-shot Item 47, but Titans marks his first foray into DC TV. And it's almost a surprise to learn that after hearing just how primed he already was to join this HBO Max show specifically. 

So when we approached him, I thought that it was a tough one, since ... it's someone we're really reaching out to get. And it's hard, because you're selling somebody on a character who's been done a couple of times, famously. So I had a whole speech prepared, and I was all geared up and ready to kind of pitch him, and I didn't get a word in, because he's a giant Titans fan of the books, starting with (Marv) Wolfman and (George) Perez, and then onward. He took me through all the volumes of Titans that he had over the phone, and I was just sitting on the phone like, 'Just don't screw it up. Just don't screw up.'

As it turns out, Welliver wasn't just a fan of the comics. Rather, he was already quite familiar with any and all of the characters and actors he might be sharing the screen with. 

Lex Luthor talking with Starfire in Titans Season 4

(Image credit: HBO Max)

According to Greg Walker, Welliver came into Titans as prepared as could be, and was versed in everything that had come before in this live-action universe. In his words:

Some people bone up, you know, on shows; that's normal. But he had watched it, and he could refer to shots. He's a director himself, so he admired the look of the show, and how we built it. Anyway, I was just thinking like, 'Just pinch me, because this is a dream.' And then at the very end, he said, 'So I'm in. Do you have any questions?' [Laughs.] I was like, 'No. Thank you.'

In Greg Walker's mind, the Bosch star was mentally well-equipped to handle the role, as he came at it with the understanding of how the creative team wanted to use him for Conor's storyline. Here's how he put it:

For sure, and I think that he really caught and worked with what's super interesting to us about Lex. The complexity of someone who has all the power in the world, who has been evil and is kind of comfortable with that. You know, it doesn't keep him up at night, his transgressions. He wouldn't even see them as transgressions. They're just expressions of a destiny that he seems hellbent on fulfilling.

Viewers will have to check out Season 4 to see just how successful Lex and others are when it comes to deciding their destinies. 

Beyond Lex Luthor, fans can also expect to get acquainted with another pair of devious and haunting villains in Joseph Morgan’s Brother Blood and Franka Potente’s Mother Mayhem, as well as Lisa Ambalavanar’s Jinx. And we can probably expect to see some crossover action between TItans and Brec Bassinger’s Stargirl heroine, although it may be a bit more bittersweet now that The CW has canceled that Geoff Johns series.

Titans Season 4 will be available for everyone with an HBO Max subscription on Thursday, November 3, with the first two episodes going live for the debut. Check out other upcoming DC TV shows, and head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way, assuming Lex Luthor hasn’t ended the world before then.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.