"I'm quite new to this whole press package," admits British actor Tom Weston-Jones, conducting an interview on a bustling street with buses and foot traffic zipping by rather than talking indoors, where a party's noise level is not much better.
“I’m quite new to this game. I just got out of drama school two years ago.”
Despite that, his career is about to enter its biggest phase yet. As the lead in the set-in-New York “Western” adventure “Copper,” premiering 10 p.m. EDT Sunday on BBC America, and the Reelz miniseries “World Without End” coming in October, he’s on the cusp of breaking through in the United States.
“It can all be quite surreal. This is all not really real. It’s not who you are,” he says. “I’ve got a long learning curve. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what’s going on (in my career).”
Even on this busy stretch of street, Weston-Jones, a brawny 24-year-old with less than a half-dozen professional credits to his name, evokes a rugged image. Women passing by take a second look at him, wearing a tight shirt, his brown hair down to the bottom of his neck.
Though he seems oblivious to the attention he’s getting at the moment, Weston-Jones is wiser to “Copper” and its extraordinary pedigree. Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana produced the project, and Fontana wrote it. “Copper” also is BBC America’s first original scripted program after previously only airing programs from Great Britain.
Anticipation is high, but Weston-Jones is undaunted.
The story follows lawman Kevin Corcoran, an Irish immigrant and boxer who tries to keep the peace in the lawless Five Points district of New York City in 1864, during the Civil War. His work is also personal: Kevin is looking into the disappearance of his wife and death of his daughter.
“What I love about it is there might be a scene that is quite dark,” Weston-Jones says, “then the next scene might have joy in it. I love the way it is structured.”
Weston-Jones went to drama school in London, which he now calls home. He was born in England, but grew up in Dubai. “Not the best place,” he deadpans, “for entertainment.”
For most of his life, Weston-Jones knew he wanted to work in the arts, but he says it wasn’t until after his first year in drama school that he decided acting was his true calling.
“Copper” also brought Weston-Jones a physical challenge since he tried to do his own stunts.
He considers any cuts or bruises from his work to be a true sign of how well he did.
“If you don’t come out of a job with a few cuts and scrapes, you wonder if you did any good,” he says.
So how did he fare on that front?
“I had a few,” he says with a sly grin.
Other highlights for the week of Aug. 19-25 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
“Survivorman” (8 p.m., Discovery). Les Stroud returns for another season of adventure, going where no man wants to go. And this time, he gets chilly.
“Married to Jonas” (10 p.m., E!). Kevin Jonas (of Jonas Brothers fame) opens up his newlywed life for cameras in this new reality series also starring his wife.
“Episodes” (10:30 p.m., Showtime). As the season-two finale nears, Matt and his stalker take their relationship to the next level.
“America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC). The wild-card round begins as previously booted acts get a second shot.
“All The Right Moves” (10 p.m., Oxygen). In this reality show, choreographers under the gun try to accomplish the impossible for A-list clients.
“The American Bible Challenge” (8 p.m., GSN). Contestants may need divine inspiration when trying to show their knowledge of the holy book.
“Strawberry Summer” (8 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel). A strawberry-festival queen (Julie Mond) falls for a bad-boy country crooner (Trevor Donovan) in this family-friendly romantic comedy.
“Haunted High” (9 p.m., Syfy). A demonic headmaster takes over a private school in this horror movie.