New drama 'Copper' follows Irish American detectives in 19th century NYC - VIDEO
New show follows rugged Irish immigrant cop as he patrols the notorious New York Five Points
Thankfully Ryan got to his audition without causing a riot. The scenes went well and he kept getting call backs until he finally met with show runner Tom Fontana in Los Angles. A day later he heard he had the part.
Playing Maguire is an ideal springboard to introduce Ryan to American audiences, as luck would have it.
“Copper is a strong representation of Ireland in that it covers the Famine, the Civil War and their history in the Five Points and the city. Being the only true Irish person in the show is very humbling,” he admits.
Ryan’s Detective Maguire was a boxer who lost the sight of his left eye in the ring.
“My character wasn’t allowed to fight in the Civil War. During a fight I suffer a dead eye. Later in the war, of course, they’re willing to take anyone they can.”
At first glance the Irish American police storyline may seem like an odd choice for the BBC, but its genius is that it plays to every one of the BBC’s strengths – accomplished acting, tight scripts, a deep familiarity with the immigrant experience and the toll on individuals caught up in larger historical forces. This is drama on a huge scale, and that’s something the BBC has a history of getting right.
“This show ultimately isn't about New York, it's about anyplace anybody lives,” Fontana (writer/producer of Oz, Homicide: Life on the Streets, St. Elsewhere) the show’s co-creator told the press recently. “What greater example of division was there than the Civil War?”
In an era before DNA evidence and all the other modern technologies were invented, cops had to rely on their knowledge of the underworld and on their own smarts to catch criminals. That makes Copper a major departure from all the other police procedurals vying for your attention on television at the moment.
Part of the fun of the new show is that you’re in there discovering the newly emerging New York City right alongside Corcoran and Maguire.
“My character isn’t racist as much as ignorant and that’s how I play it,” says Ryan. “It takes him a while to warm up to Detective Corcoran. Over time my guard goes down and I let him in.”
The sets for the show are phenomenal, Ryan enthuses. “I’m a history buff and I love period detail, and I was blown away by the scale of the sets on Copper. They have rebuilt the entire Five Points,” he says.
“You can walk into any store on one of our streets and just open a drawer and it will be filled with working props. Can you imagine that? When you have that level of detail you actually don’t have to use your imagination, it’s all there on the set.
“Over the course of time the streets even started to smell a bit thanks to all the horses now. It became closer to real life, and that just helps the show.”
Oscar winning director Barry Levinson has taken the reins, and the advance buzz on the show is off the charts. BBC America has been enjoying massive hits in the U.S. with cult dramas like Doctor Who and Sherlock, but this is the first time they have bankrolled a series on this scale and it’s proof they expect it to be a hit.
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