Bosch: Juliet Landau talks research for Rita, differences to Drusilla, and much more

Bosch -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video -- Acquired via True Public Relations PR
Bosch -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video -- Acquired via True Public Relations PR /

Bosch Season 5 has been released on Amazon Prime Video and it’s time to delve into the adaptation of Two Kinds of Truth. Juliet Landau breaks down her character, sharing the amount of research she did and other projects she has coming up.

Oh, Bosch, how we missed you! The fifth season is now available to stream in full on Amazon Prime Video. This season saw a number of recognizable faces, one of those being Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel’s Juliet Landau.

Landau has certainly kept herself busy over the years since the Joss Whedon projects, acting and now producing and directing, and it’s always a pleasure to see her take on a new character. She plays Rita Tedesco in the fifth season, a court reporter living with a dark secret. And that secret is about to come out.

During this exclusive interview with Amazon Adviser, Landau shares more about the research that went into playing the character. She also talks about her other upcoming projects, which involve some of the biggest stars on TV and in movies.

Caution: There are spoilers from Bosch Season 5 in this interview. If you haven’t checked out the season, I fully advise to watch in full and then come back!

Amazon Adviser: I noticed how much your part has been body language and facial expressions instead of words. You say a lot without actually saying anything at all.

Juliet Landau: It’s interesting that you ask that. Rita is introduced in a way, which builds mystery. Her storyline is teased through the first part of the season. A lot is communicated by what you can read on her face and her body language.

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She’s been living a dual life, functioning by compartmentalizing for a long time. She works as a court reporter and even the judge, who she’s worked with for years, played by Bess Armstrong, has no idea. Rita’s managed to hide that she’s married to Preston, a rapist/murderer on death row. They met in court, where he was ultimately convicted. She’s the one who took down the nitty-gritty details of his crime for the record.

On the behest of Bosch and Chandler, Ryan Hurst’s character begins to hassle her. He’s trying to confirm the marriage. She’s usually a tougher and stronger gal, but she’s completely taken off guard. The foundation of her existence has been rocked. She could lose her livelihood, Pres, everything! Her carefully constructed, balanced life is threatened. She doesn’t want to say too much so a lot is expressed physically and emotionally. I prepared for that by getting immersed in every fiber of who she was.

AA: There’s definitely a lot more to her. Rita is married to someone who is doing time. She looks nervous but that doesn’t make sense for this story that we’re being told, suggesting there’s something she’s hiding. That there’s some sort of act she’s putting on.

Landau: There are definitely a lot of layers to her. It’s cool how everything unfolds throughout the season. One of the things I found intriguing as I delved further into the role was how universal Rita’s plight is.

It wouldn’t seem so at first, but her relationship with Pres is in a lot of ways, a microcosm for many alliances. It’s the ultimate long-distance relationship, but instead of partners being separated by cities or countries, it’s by walls. It’s the extreme version of an unhealthy relationship…Many of us have had at least one of those, based on fantasy, on who we think someone is, who we want them to be, rather than on who they truly are.

Photographer: Deverill WeekesMakeup: Shanna CistulliHair: Nikki MessanaStylist: Rebecca Penton
Photographer: Deverill WeekesMakeup: Shanna CistulliHair: Nikki MessanaStylist: Rebecca Penton /

AA: You’re just coming into the series for Bosch Season 5, right? I’m still to fully catch up on the series! There’s just so much on now.

Landau: Yes. I was so excited when I got the call for the series. I had seen all the episodes of all the seasons, which was quite a feat. My husband and I co-wrote a movie, we raised the financing for the film, we attached A-list talent, we shot the movie, we cut the movie. We’ve actually started our other project and started shooting it.

In all that, we had time to watch all of Bosch. I was so excited to work with Titus [Welliver] and all of the actors and Michael [Connolly] and Eric [Overmyre]; I couldn’t have been happier.

AA: What’s it like coming into this show five seasons in with a fanbase that is so loud and passionate on social media?

Landau: It’s wonderful. I have a little experience with passionate fanbases because of Buffy and Angel, and also Tim Burton’s movie Ed Wood, which has an avid fanbase. It’s fun to interact with a new fanbase and the some of the Buffy, Angel, and Ed Wood followers are fans of Bosch as well.

AA: As a fan, it’s always fun to interact with the actors, creators, costume designers, and everyone else involved. I love finding out about the research that everyone has done.

Landau: I did a ton of research for this one! First of all, there was the court stenographer component. I watched a whole slew of videos about the job and about the technical aspects. My editor has a friend who works as a court reporter, so I called and grilled her a number of times. She explained that she’s responsible for all of the evidence during proceedings. She said the job gives her “a front row seat to the circus of life.”

I talked to the retired sergeant, who was the second in command at South Central LAPD for 25 years. He consulted on my film, A Place Among the Dead. I asked him about the conditions on death row and if he’d met people like Rita, but this didn’t prove to be the most fruitful avenue in all of my research. He said, “Juliet, I spent years putting criminals away, not visiting them!”

I watched every documentary I could get my hands on about women married to men on death row. There was a particularly fascinating series called, Death Row Dates. I read every article I could find about some notorious and some less known killers and the spouses who wed them in prison.

I read a few books including Tammy Menendez’s book and one which had 12 case studies of women in Australia married to violent criminals, some on death row, some who got out. One particularly striking case involved sisters each married to a brutal criminal. One got out and murdered one sister. The other’s husband, who had killed his first wife, was released later. He beat and tortured the second sister and because of this was sent back to jail. She stood by him and was waiting for his release, rationalizing that he suffered from PTSD so it was not like her sister’s murder or his previous wife’s murder! The power we humans have for denial is truly extraordinary.

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AA: The role is also so different to so much of what you’ve done. How fulfilling is it as an actress to do all these different roles. I’ll use Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as an example. Drusilla is crazy, brilliant but crazy, while Rita seems shy but there’s something going on.

Landau: That’s what I love about being an actress. I love getting to play a diverse range of roles and it’s always infinitely interesting to get into the different skins. Dru had her own recipe of ingredients and Rita…the writing on Bosch is so wonderfully done that a lot of your work is already done for you that there are lots of different colors and aspects to the character.

AA: The writing on Bosch makes you read between the lines. You have to pay attention for the details.

Landau: Yes, Michael was a crime reporter for 15 years with the LA Times and then wrote the series of books, which the show is closely related to. He’s involved in the show, so, yeah, it has a lot of realism. We actually had police officers and a court reporter on set to go for the accuracy on set.

Rita couldn’t be more polar opposite to Dru. It’s fun. It’s a joy to find just ‘what does she look like’ and ‘how does she move’ and all of those elements.

AA: This season is based on “Two Kinds of Truth.” Had you read the book before getting the part or once you get it once you got the part for research?

Landau: Once I was cast, I immediately listened to the audiobook of “Two Kinds of Truth.” Then I started retroactively with Book 1 and went through the entire series sequentially. I became obsessed! My husband and I re-watched Bosch Seasons 1-4 and he is also almost finished with the books. We can’t wait for the next one to come out!

AA: Did you take anything from the books for Rita?

Landau: Rita isn’t in the books but the characters surrounding her are. The story is intrinsically the same, but some elements have evolved or developed further. Certain seasons combine the cases from different books.

I took many specifics, but one main, general thing is that Michael Connelly created a universe and he and the rest of the Bosch team make sure to stay true to it with the show. He was a crime reporter for 12 years including at the LA Times. The accuracy and realism of the storylines and the characters are key.

I learned a lot about Rita’s husband Pres from the novel. This led me to think about how differently she dressed at work to when visiting him, which is what she lives for. She is plain on the job, trying not to stand out, but on visits wears sexy clothes, fixes her make-up and hair.

But I also wanted Rita to look a bit rough… The weight of her choices has wreaked havoc on her. We shot one scene where she goes for a visit before work, so the sexy side could only be expressed in her undergarments. I also wore a chain with her wedding ring inside my blouse at all times, which I show only to “my hubby.” I’m not sure how much of that made it into the episodes since I haven’t seen them yet.

AA: Do you have a favorite genre of TV or movies? You don’t so much! I think you’ve done every genre going! Is there a favorite or a variety?

Landau: I do love the variety. When I’m working on something, I’ll probably say that’s my favorite because I get very invested and involved in what I’m doing, so it probably changes with every single job I do. I love that I work in a medium where there are so many different ways to tell stories.

Photo acquired via True Public Relations
Photo acquired via True Public Relations /

AA: Do you have any projects you’re working on that you can talk about. You mentioned a movie with your husband.

Landau: Yes, that’s called A Place Among the Dead and it’s my feature directorial debut. I star in the movie and we put together, what I like to call, cameos on steroids with Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Robert Patrick, Joss Whedon, and best-selling author Anne Rice, which is her first appearance ever in a movie. That I’ve just completed post-production on.

I’m also working on a series project that’s called The Undead Series. Everyone I’ve just mentioned came back for that and we also interviewed Tim Burton and Willem Defoe, and all these other breath-taking talents. That project I like to describe as, you know Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?”

AA: Yes.

Landau: This is “Vampires in Coffins Giving Blood.” I’ve just finished the cutting of Episode 1 and I’m starting on the cut of Episode 2 this week.

I’m also starring in a movie directed by Willem Malone, who directed by A House on Haunted Hill, with Geoffrey Rush,, and Stephen Rea. We’re working on the look of the character, which is going to be a physical character. I’m excited because it’s going to use a lot of my dance background.

Photo acquired via True Public Relations
Photo acquired via True Public Relations /

AA: So, you’re starring and directing A Place Among the Dead. What’s it like wearing so many hats on one project?

Landau: It’s a lot of work! Going to work as an actress almost feels like a vacation after doing that. There’s writing, producing, fundraising, directing, starring in it, it’s interesting to switch between being subjective and objective. I really loved it.

I love the process of having an idea and bringing that idea to fruition. I loved working with the composer and on the color correction and all of those aspects. I really enjoy it because it’s exceptional being an actress and using a component of yourself to fit into a story, but it’s extraordinary being the one to make all of those other choices.

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What have you thought of Bosch Season 5? Are you as excited about Juliet Landau’s upcoming projects as I am? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Bosch Season 5 is now available to stream in full on Amazon Prime Video.