Copper Franka Potente
Credit: BBC America

Franka Potente had no reason to worry about the quality of BBC America’s Copper. With veteran producers like Homicide: Life on the Street team Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson at the helm, she knew they were in good hands. But even so, the actress admits to being a little nervous.

“Honestly, if it doesn’t look awesome, it’s embarrassing,” the actress, who plays a madam named Eva Heissen, remembers thinking. “I’ve seen it too often.” Luckily, she reports, relief washed over her after she watched the first two episodes. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is great.'”

Copper, the network’s first original scripted series, follows Det. Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones), a man who solves crimes while also tracking down information on his daughter’s murder and wife’s disappearance. Potente’s (Run Lola Run, Bourne Identity) Eva is Corcoran’s “f–k buddy,” she jokes, and one of many people in the detective’s elaborate network of crime solving helpers. “We basically pick up sort of where [Gangs of New York] left off,” she says. “There was a lot of anger going on [at the time] and the police was sort of like a gang in itself.”

In the first episode, airing tonight, Corcoran aims to solve the murder and rape of a young girl who lived on the streets. The dark subject matters tackled week to week are, says Potente, authentic of the time. “It was a melting pot, and there were hundreds and hundreds of poor people with nothing to eat. This is where the heart of the story is set,” she says. “The second episode, I think, is even darker. You get a real [idea] of what we’re going for.”

Copper airs tonight on BBC America.