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'Copper' Season 2: Showcase Drama Steps Up The Intensity

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KEVIN RYAN COPPER
Kevin Ryan as Francis Maguire on 'Copper.' | Showcase

The much-anticipated second season of "Copper" is finally here, and while the Five Points looks the same, its residents don't.

Powerhouses Alfre Woodard ("Desperate Housewives"), Donal Logue ("Sons of Anarchy") and William Baldwin ("Dirty Sexy Money") show up on the wartime New York streets, taking the show to a whole new level, as does the historical drama's new showrunner, Tom Kelly, who also executive-produces "Blue Bloods." Of course, the show still centres on Det. Kevin "Corky" Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) as he continues to eke out a living in the Five Points neighbourhood; it's his former pal Det. Francis Maguire who may be going through the most upheaval.

HuffPost Canada TV spoke with Kevin Ryan on the Toronto set of "Copper" and found out about his aptly named dog, if Maguire will ever find love again, and what will happen to Maguire and Corcoran. [Ed. Note: There are a lot of spoilers, so read at your own risk!]

HuffPost Canada TV: Someone told me you named your dog Copper.
Kevin Ryan: I did, yeah. I got her last year. She was born on the first day of principal photography so I named her Copper. She's great. She grew up on set, she's here right now. She was all paws when I got her, now she's huge. Props made my detective badge out of the collar. It has all her information on the back of it. It's cool. Everyone thinks she's a cop dog. When we're at the airport, everyone stays away from her.

What's it like wearing that contact lens?
It's like being in really soapy, cloudy bathwater. I can't really see anything out of the left side, which is kind of cool because it creates more head movement. Originally we were supposed to go with an eye patch but it just doesn't work. Back then, it's like, why cover it? People were walking around with all sorts of diseases, disabilities, it wasn't like today where you would cover it up. It's just there. The eye was a plot point for Maguire in the sense that it prevented him from going to fight in the Civil War. There's a line in there in Episode 1, I think, where Corcoran says, "Would they take you now?" Because of the state of the war, they didn't expect it to go on as long as it did, for the south to put up a fight on the level that they did and they would literally take anyone. But at that point, I'm a detective, so...

Do we know how that happened to Maguire?
Maguire was a boxer, that's how he and Corcoran met. They were young and they were boxing and it was a boxing injury. After that, I stopped boxing. I used to train a lot with Corcoran but he was the fighter then, went on to be a prize fighter.

Tell me about the relationship between Corcoran and Maguire.
It's complex but if I had to simplify it, they're brothers, basically is what it is. They are best friends. It got very, very complicated last season and this season again with the relationship between Ellen, that triangle going on. They're definitely best friends but when the weight of the relationship between me and Ellen developed when he was away and the death of his daughter, we spent a lot of time trying to find out what happened. I was just sort of masking, covering up ... I couldn't hurt the man anymore and I didn't know how to explain what happened.

I approached from a place of love and respect although that was the wrong decision. That's simply what it was. There's something very real that happened between Maguire and Ellen, when they fell in love and I really, truly believe they were in love. Not only did Maguire get his heart broken but he also, at that point, lost his best friend. He was very isolated, alone, and he had to cover his tracks as well. He committed murder and tried to bury it and keep his place in society. But it all got disheveled and he ended up on his own. And it was all about survival at that point, which is a huge aspect being in the Five Points. Maguire wasn't sure how Corcoran would react to the whole thing. He ended up going back to church, which was the only place he could, and he ended up going through the system.

So we open up in Season 2 -- Maguire is in jail. He's on death row. He's going to be hanged for the murders they've put him in for, but he gets a plea bargain with Tammany Hall. In a sense, they have ownership over him, they have such a hold over his life right now, he's stuck with them. He's manipulated by them, he's forced to do different things. It's positive at the start for Maguire because he's given the opportunity to go undercover, infiltrate the most dangerous, heaviest, successful Irish gang in the Five Points neighbourhood, the Druids. He does that, he goes in very, very deep, becomes one of them essentially, and gets into the system with them. We deal with money laundering, we deal with murder, theft, we deal with the takeover of a precinct that we'll see in Episode 5.

So, needless to say, Season 2 is a lot different for you?
This season, for the first five episodes until it comes out that I'm the good guy and I was doing it all for the greater good, being undercover, it's a very isolating place. Even as an actor, I found that on set. My days weren't with the guys anymore. That was a great thing, because that's what Maguire was feeling as well. He wanted to prove himself, that he could turn a leaf, in a sense, and gain the respect of his guys back. But he's also looking for absolution, for redemption, and a way of just surfacing and reuniting with his best friends and his old life. This is a chance for him to really prove himself, and he does. He comes out shining.

Will Maguire find love again?
That's a tough question. Any woman that he's even connected to has ended up dead. [Laughs] He's either killed them himself, or they die, or they get murdered. It happens again in Season 2. It's a very painful thing for Maguire because he has this ideology of life that you come over from Ireland and you're saved from the famine and every hardship your family has experienced, and what we still see today as the American Dream. So when he does finally get over here, he realizes he was better off being raised under British rule and struggling famine than he is here. But he's a fighter, he's a very, very tough guy, he's a survivor. But he still has this idea, these dreams inside of him that he can go out and have a farm and a wife and kids and continue his family name and be a good father. That's one of the issues as well, being a father. He wants that because his father left when he was very, very young so he sort of wants to be the father he never had.

Do you think he's in that place yet, to have a family?
No. That's the dream. I think that's the dream. I think we all have that. We have these ideas of what our life will be but then reality sets in. When you reach 30, 35, you're not going to be a rock star like you wanted to be when you were a teenager. And that's just part of life. But I think Maguire tries to make the most out of his environment and his relationships. We see the trio really come back between Maguire, O'Brien and Corcoran this season, because Maguire keeps on top of everything. He works harder than he's ever worked before to constantly be there and do the right thing and make the right decisions. Some of them are questionable but in the end he surfaces, he follows through.

You must love playing him.
Always. I always love my character. You can never judge your character, as an actor. Even if you're playing Hitler, you play him in a good way. People don't say I'm the bad guy. I'm doing the right thing for the right reasons. And sometimes it's just bad decisions. It's a very exciting role, it's a very dangerous role.

And he's not one-dimensional.
No! There are so many layers. He's tough. He's emotional, he's vulnerable, he has so many problems going on in the inside, his heart is constantly broken, he's just this tough shell and there's a big heart inside of him and I think we're finding that we constantly see that. He's a big dope when it comes to women. Typical Irish man. Just goes to butter. He melts.

'Copper' Season 2 premieres Sunday, Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showcase. It has already begun airing in the U.S. on BBC America.

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