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'Copper' star's old-time New York state of mind

Ato Essandoh, left, Kyle Schmid, center and Tom

Ato Essandoh, left, Kyle Schmid, center and Tom Weston-Jones in “Copper” Credit: Ato Essandoh, left, Kyle Schmid, center and Tom Weston-Jones in “Copper”

New York City police series are a dime a dozen.

But "Copper" - the first original scripted show from BBC America - finds a way to be different. It's set in '64.

That's 1864.

Conceived by Barry Levinson ("Good Morning Vietnam") and Tom Fontana ("Oz," "Homicide"), this gritty, visceral series set during the tail end of the Civil War takes viewers to Fifth Avenue, the Five Points and elsewhere.

The "copper" is immigrant Irish detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones), who is trying to keep the streets clean with the help of his pals.

He's also dealing with a personal mission: Finding out who killed his daughter and searching for his missing wife.

amNewYork spoke with Weston-Jones.

How did you get into the mindset of a New Yorker in 1864? I think people's goals haven't changed too much. We still want the same things, we still need the same things, it's just how we go about getting them and what we do with ourselves that's different.

Did you do a ton of research? I like to surround myself with material. ... With the 1860s, there's so much information that people don't know. It's a fantastically dense period of time of American history where a lot of things happened - and everything is incredibly visceral.

Any big drawbacks to doing a period piece? A curse for us, when you're filming this, is if you break a prop, you can't go to a shop and pick out a particular try of lantern from the period. ... And I did break a few things. The props guys, I love them, but I'm glad I didn't get some bad voice-mail messages.

Have you visited the Five Points area now? Unfortunately, me and Tom [Fontana] were going to do a promotional thing where we were going to walk through the streets. But ... we couldn't fit it in. I'm hoping that when I'm next in New York, I'll actually be able to.

On TV: "Copper" debuts Sunday at 10 p.m. on BBC America. 

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