I spoke with Anastasia Griffith about her role as Elizabeth Haverford in Copper. The second season of Copper premieres Sunday night, June 23 at 10/9c on BBC America. It was a pleasure to speak with the beautiful Anastasia about the show, her character, having fun on the set, her breathtaking wardrobe, and so much more. I loved the first season, so I can’t wait to see what kind of drama the second season is going to bring. They also added one of my favorite actors Mr. Donal Logue to the cast as Brendan Donovan. This is sure to be an exceptional season. Do not miss the premiere Sunday night on BBC America.
Lena: The first thing that I have to ask you about is your breathtaking wardrobe on the show. Do you have any favorite ensembles from the first season and perhaps something that we should be looking out for in the new season?
Anastasia Griffith: I always like the pieces that are a little less controlling that give me a little bit more freedom. There was this piece last year that I also reuse this year, which is a lacey top rather than something that is very tight. I always prefer the outfits without the hoops, to be honest with you, because they are easier to wear and I feel like I can be freer with the character when the hoop isn’t involved. There is a bit more of that going on this year, which I really enjoyed. Just in general, we’ve tried to loosen it up a little bit to reflect where Elizabeth is at with her life and where her mind is at. I’ve enjoyed having a little more freedom and last year it was very helpful to have that almost caged feeling because that’s how she felt. I think she is sort of breaking loose this year and the wardrobe has reflected that brilliantly. As for favorite pieces, I love the veils. We visits those a lot this year. I love it when she’s wearing a beautiful veil and I love the capes and coats. There is a really cool coat that I wear this year. We’ve got a new designer who’s making all of Elizabeth’s stuff this year. His name is Michelle and he’s just so talented. I feel like there are some treats to come.
Lena: Yes, it isn’t very easy to sit down in hoop skirts.
Anastasia Griffith: No, it’s definitely not very easy to sit down. Also, it really informs so much about the character and I think something I struggled with because you can’t move, the way you move and the way you breathe really affects the way you speak and way you feel. When we meet other human beings we read them without realizing that we are. So much of that is our body language and when you think that such a large percentage of the society was sort of contained in this way, it really does something to their minds. I found just as an actress in that amount of time in this very contained structure which it really is, it’s like an exterior skeleton that you put on everyday. It really affects the way you feel and I think last year so much of this spiritedness and freedom that I wanted to feel with Elizabeth was contained and that was such an interesting aspect of the character, I think. It’s something that I embrace but it’s not always comfortable and it would get to me if the day was quite long. At times, I didn’t look forward to putting them on but it’s helpful for the role.
Lena: Corsets do make your back feel better though.
Anastasia Griffith: Yeah, it’s funny because it does help your back. It does mean that you also hold your stomach in.
Lena: Just don’t try to put on shoes because you can’t really even bend over.
Anastasia Griffith: No, you can’t bend over and put on shoes. You can’t really even go to the bathroom in it because you can’t wipe. [Laughing.]
Lena: [Laughing.] Yes, I’ve worn corsets before and that is impossible.
Anastasia Griffith: The lady that dresses me has become an intimate friend. [Laughing.]
Lena: I can only imagine. But the costumes are so beautiful it’s worth it. That blue dress that you wore in the first season. That was gorgeous.
Anastasia Griffith: I think we revisit that dress actually. I think we’ve got a different top for it.
Lena: In the season one finale, Bobby Kennedy (Aaron Poole) begs Elizabeth for help and he uses the words “our cause.” Elizabeth seems to be working with both sides but is upset with what went down during the fires. Can you discuss that and the dynamics of your character?
Anastasia Griffith: Yeah, it was something that I knew was coming for the whole of the season and I was struggling with why she was involved. I did a bunch of research on people that didn’t agree with the war and didn’t agree with Lincoln. She’s not someone, and I still don’t think that she’s someone, that does things mindlessly, so I don’t think it was a mindless decision but I think you have to take into consideration that first of all, that she’s a woman who was suddenly on her own and we learn a lot in the beginning of season two about the situation that she was in at the time. I don’t want to give anything away but we learn very quickly in season two about what drove her to make that decision. I also think that I can equate that a lot to the second Gulf War, how a lot of Americans felt about that. They felt that there wasn’t a necessity to the war and they didn’t agree with what was going on in Iraq. They didn’t agree with Saddam Hussein the same way that Elizabeth doesn’t agree with slavery and this war was so much about that. She didn’t agree with how it was being dealt with and the cost of life. I think she thinks she’s more political than she actually is and understands politics more than she actually does. She has these very staunch opinions and I think she kind of gets herself into a bit of a corner. We learn very quickly in the beginning of season two and that will be addressed. She was involved in the burning of New York City but we learn how much that was and what her goal was in the war and what her relationship with Robert Kennedy was. That’s really something that I don’t want to reveal anything about, but so much of the first episode is about that.
Lena: Where does the second season start off?
Anastasia Griffith: It’s a couple of months on. It’s 1865 now and I believe that we start in February of 1865. It’s a few months on and things have jumped a little bit and you see all of the characters a little further down the road, but it’s still very much that same time period and a lot of the same issues are weighing on them.
Lena: One of the scenes that I really feel was a strong one for your character was when she allowed Morehouse to seduce her.
Anastasia Griffith: That was actually one of my favorite scenes to do last year. I think because it was one of the rare moments where you see her. So much of last year was what Elizabeth wanted to portray, what she wanted to put out there it was all external, like a shell, and we didn’t really crack it. We do this year but I think that’s why that scene is a favorite of mine. It’s like this little light just shines out and Morehouse just cracks it open. I just loved the way that it was shot. It could have been a blah scene, another man trying to win over a woman, but it actually had a tenderness to it and a sexiness to it as if Morehouse had wanted to do this and say this for so long. I think it’s actually very touching.
Lena: Can you talk about her relationship with Morehouse because we see them together in the new preview?
Anastasia Griffith: Yeah, I can’t give away too much but that was the beginning of something for them and I think the thing that has really come up the year for me is how much the woman at that time in the sphere, in that social standing, needs to attach themselves to a man and how men have ultimate control. If they want to destroy a woman all it takes is one sentence and her reputation is shattered. I think so much of my empathy for Elizabeth comes from that understanding. I think other women have a much harder life in other ways in other social standing but can have freedom and independence and a voice. She and most of the women in that social standing really don’t get that opportunity. I think she sees in Morehouse someone who understands her, someone who is flawed and respects her that level. He respects what she has to say, he respects who she is as a woman and I think that he has been in love with her for a long time. I think for Elizabeth that is really valuable. I don’t think she’s had that, certainly not in New York, not since she’s been in Manhattan. I think they are really good friends and I think that their coming together is a really genuine one.
Lena: You also have great chemistry with Kyle.
Anastasia Griffith: Oh, thank you. We are all friends on the show. Generally, actually you tend to have chemistry with people that you aren’t that close to. I think that when you are really close to someone it can sometimes be hard to cross boundaries. Kyle and I are good friends and we’ve hung out for a couple of years now. It’s really comfortable with him. It doesn’t feel tricky or complicated. We kind of joke about it when we come to work on those days where we have to do intimate scenes.
Lena: From the new previews, this season will be dealing with a counterfeit ring, bank robberies, and more. What can you say about the new season and additions to the cast, like one of my favorite actors, Donal Logue?
Anastasia Griffith: Oh, Donal is amazing. Just as a man it’s been amazing to have him around; he’s a really cool cat. It’s been nice. He’s got gravitas and humor and he’s just a really cool man to have around. He comes in to represent a part of the city that we really didn’t see that much of in season one which is Tammany Hall, which is the political aspect. He’s a sort of a wheeler-dealer in the city who happens to also be one of Corcoran’s bosses. He’s the head of the police force. He comes in and stirs things up a little bit. He’s a very cool actor. He’s doing a real cool job in this. What is season two about? For me it is always about something different than what it’s about for the boys and for me season two is about guilt, shame, ghosts, and shadows of the past. It’s a very emotional season and there is a lot going on with her dealing with the repercussions of what she’s involved in in season one. The world opens up so I do a lot more work with Franka Potente and Tessa Thompson and bring the women more into the heart of the picture, which was my biggest problem with season one, I thought we had these really cool women doing great work and were sort of on the periphery. This year we are all coming into the world a little bit more and it makes the whole show pull together better – all these different parts that are being brought together into a whole and I think it’s works.
Lena: That’s fantastic because the entire cast is really amazing.
Anastasia Griffith: We are really lucky. Everyone really nails their parts. They cast this thing very well, everyone is there just digging in to get their work done and to give the most interesting and believable performances that they can. It’s an ensemble.
Lena: I also loved you in Royal Pains.
Anastasia Griffith: Thank you. That was very different role. [Laughing.]
Lena: Do you get to partake in any of the fun on the set? I know Kevin Ryan is always posting photos of himself holding baby goats and stuff like that.
Anastasia Griffith: [Laughing.] Yes, Kevin Ryan would post pictures of him and baby goats. I do, I do. I was cuddling those baby goats the other day. I don’t get to go down to Five Points that often and I always like it when I do. It’s really funny because I go down there in a crazy outfit and I feel like I really shouldn’t touch anything because it quite genuinely stinks like horse poo. I love it down there. I just love those sets. I think they are so authentic.
Lena: Yes, I interviewed Kevin Ryan last season and he mentioned how much he loves it there and how much it really helps him get into character.
Anastasia Griffith: It genuinely smells like horse poo because they are pooing around you all the time and with my skirts I tend to collect it. When I walk though the streets I end up dragging all this poo with me it is pretty entertaining, maybe not for the wardrobe department. [Laughing.]
Lena: [Laughing.] Yeah, it must be really difficult to clean all the horse stuff off of your dresses.
Anastasia Griffith: I don’t know how they clean my dresses. There was actually a moment in season one where I had to do that ballroom scene in that big white dress and I was on that set just walking around and that thing picks up dust. I remember I had this beautiful dress and they had planned that I could pick it up behind me and have it on my wrist as we danced, but by the time we got to that scene it was black underneath. I don’t know what they did, but it can’t be great for the wardrobe department.
Lena: Any funny stories from the set that you can share?
Anastasia Griffith: We haven’t had anything as an outtake yet this year. Kyle and I did the dancing thing last year during the ballroom. We did do something funny. Our head of wardrobe Delphine had a big birthday and we all feel that she is such an important part of the show so we got together and wrote a skit in order to honor her. At lunch time we went into Eva’s Paradise and had lunch with the whole crew in there, and when Delphine came in we broke into this stupid slapstick skit which is all about how Eva has to leave Five Points and we need to find a replacement and she’s going to get the best whore in town, so we put Delphine in the middle of the room and ended up doing a very lewd skit around her. There were definitely phallic wooden antique dildos being passed around for her amusement. [Laughing.] Ato had his shirt off to reveal his amazingly toned abs. It was silly but it was so much fun. We all take it very seriously, but there is always a good vibe and people playing and having fun. We have a great showrunner this year Thomas Kelly. He really encourages us to enjoy our work. It also comes from the top, our bosses. We are so lucky.