Edward Burns is the Irish-American son of a NYPD veteran, with a thick New York accent of his own. Yet despite the never-ending supply of New York-based cop films and shows – and the demand for actors to plausibly wear badges and guns in them – Burns has only played a few cops in his career. (Even in “15 Minutes,” he's trying to solve a crime, but as an investigator for the fire department.)
Sometimes, that sort of thing happens as a fluke. In Burns' case, it was more of an unconscious design. Since a conversation with Steven Spielberg on the set of “Saving Private Ryan,” Burns has had his own NYPD passion project in the back of his mind, and has been trying to get it made for most of the years since.
Now, it's finally come to life as “Public Morals,” a new TNT drama starring Burns, Michael Rapaport, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson, among others, as members of an NYPD vice squad in the 1960s. Early guest stars include Timothy Hutton, Brian Dennehy, Neal McDonough, and Robert Knepper, as the show depicts the shifting tensions between Irish gangsters and Irish cops who were willing to enjoy the fruits of the job, but maybe not willing to get on the mob's payroll.
Last month, I spoke with Burns about the project's long genesis, how he's avoided being typecast as a cop himself, trying to make an authentically New York show, and more. The video's embedded above.
“Public Morals” debuts Tuesday, August 25, at 10 p.m. on TNT.