New York City in the 1860s was filthy — both physically dirty and morally corrupt, the way the new BBC America drama “Copper” paints it.
“I had that dirt [from the set] under my nails for ages after we finished,” admits series star Tom Weston-Jones, who plays Kevin Corcoran, a detective trying to maintain some semblance of order in the gritty Five Points neighborhood. “I loved doing the street scenes because it’s when it really felt like Five Points came alive,” he adds. “You saw all the extras in makeup and completely covered in crap. It was kind of like you walked into a place that just stank of horses—t every day, but you really liked it for that reason.”
“Subconscious dirt,” as Weston-Jones calls the show’s crooked politicians, murderous thieves and informative prostitutes, sticks with viewers just as fixedly. Corcoran is very good at his job — “basically, he hates bullies,” Weston-Jones says — and often solves the case with wit and ingenuity (not to mention brass knuckles, when needed). There is little hope in making these mean streets of New York safe, but Corcoran can try.
“He goes with his gut — he’s a very guttural person rather than being cerebral and almost Hamlet-like,” Weston-Jones says. “He doesn’t sit down and ponder things — he just gets up and f—ing does it.”
The actor says he admires that quality, but admits “it can also bite [Corcoran] in the ass, which is just great. He believes in his methods, but he doesn’t think of himself as the superhero. I think he’s fully aware of how destructive he can be.”
While fighting crime, Corcoran is also battling his own issues — like dealing with a missing wife and murdered daughter.
“He gets incredibly distracted whenever anything comes up about his wife or daughter,” Weston-Jones says. “He becomes obsessed with that. And that’s where the show tumbles away for Corcoran. In that quest, he kind of loses his mind. But I think people will be intrigued to see how our hero can actually go so far down the rabbit hole.”