Zap2it: As an Irishman in America, what did you learn about being a cop in Manhattan’s largely Irish-American Five Points neighborhood in 1864 for “Copper”?
Kevin Ryan: As a cop, you were in a gang. That’s what these guys were. They were all gangs. Even the politicians were gangs; they just got more power. And you’ll see that in the show.
Zap2it: Did you do much research?
Kevin Ryan: When I initially went out for the audition, I knew [nothing] about it. When I knew I booked it, I went to New York and spent a lot of time with a history professor at NYU and a historian, so I was able to get two tours of the city. There’s history that isn’t documented. I was able to spend about nine days researching going down to where the original Five Points was, police museums, New York Historical Society. That was, for me, so important. I was able to get books, as well, on New York. I went to the Tenement Museum.
I did an enormous amount of reading. There were documentaries I got a hold of, which happened to be the same ones Tom and Barry (executive producers Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson) were looking at as well, which is great, because you know you’re on the right track.
History over here is so quick. What happened in 200 years would have taken 1,500 years in Ireland. It all happened at once, and there’s so much of the minutiae, the little details, that you find out.