“Copper” might be the new BBC America show that takes place in the Five Points area of Manhattan in 1864, but if you ask star Franka Potente what she likes about the show, it’s that it doesn’t seem like a period drama.
Potente sat down with MTV News to talk about the upcoming premiere and what it was like to work in an elaborate set disguised at post-Civil War New York City.
At first, Potente was turned off by the concept of a period show, but the content of the show made it relatable and modern. “I guess I was always a little bit scared of period stuff. As an audience, if you see 1800s or something, it more often seems that the actors are carrying the weight of the time,” she said. “It always has a Shakespearean tone to it. To me, that always feels very theatrical and very unrelatable. What I like about our show is that, yes, it is 1865, but it’s very gritty and raw and kind of contemporary, if that makes any sense.”
Part what made “Copper” so modern for Potente was her character, Eva, a local—let’s say—business woman, who keeps the main character company. “My character, Eva, is the owner of a brothel. She’s a pimp and a business woman,” Potente said. “You could take her out of that time, and she would totally work today. It’s very contemporary, so is the lead character Copper. He is a detective in that time, but he’s going about it in the old ways, but he’s also a very hunky, cute guy that gets into fights. I think that’s what I liked. It is historic, but it doesn’t feel historic.”
A show set in 1864 does have its perks, however. For instance, you get to hang out on cool, old-timey sets for work. “It’s pretty cool. I’m not going to lie. It kind of becomes normal after a while. You kind of just hoist the hoop skirt. There were three-legged dogs, and everyone looks dirty. All the sets were built in this humungous automobile factory, a little bit outside of Toronto, which you would never know what’s inside if you just drove by,” Potente said. “If I had a couple of days of and came back to work, it had completely grown. There would be more houses, and there would be a butcher. For example, my brother, expect for a running water bathroom or toilet, you could completely live in it. It had an upstairs, and it had light. The streets had cobble stone and dirt. Sometimes there would be pigs and dogs. It felt pretty real. For us, it makes our job super easy because we don’t have to take care of acting certain things that we can’t act. The period is there.”