British actress Daisy May Cooper stars in “Rain Dogs,” a dark comedy about an unconventional family premiering March 6 on HBO (10 p.m., and also available on HBO Max).
The series, created by author Cash Carraway, is set in England and follows struggling and impoverished single mother Costello Jones (Cooper), her daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian) and Costello’s best friend Selby (Jack Farthing, “Poldark”) — a wealthy gay man who is Costello’s pseudo “soul mate” and Iris’ father-figure.
“It’s an unconventional love story, really,” Cooper, 36, told The Post. “[Costello and Selby] are from opposite ends of the spectrum. He’s very affluent, she’s poor, and they’ve both been neglected in different ways and haven’t got the skills to have a normal healthy relationship, so it gets toxic.
“But it’s just such an interesting relationship that I’ve not really seen onscreen before,” she said. “That was really exciting to play — and really truthful.”
“Rain Dogs” tracks Costello’s efforts to hustle to make ends meet and provide for her daughter, which sometimes gets her into sketchy situations in which she need Selby to bail her out. He’s got his own problems too, having recently finished a stint in jail.
Cooper ( HBO’s “Avenue 5”) also starred in and co-created the British mockumentary series “This Country” with her brother, Charlie Cooper. (Its American incarnation is Fox’s “Welcome To Flatch,” starring Sean William Scott.”).
Cooper said that, like Costello in “Rain Dogs,” she grew up in poverty. Costello works at a peep show — and Cooper said she could relate to that experience.
“I remember auditioning to be a stripper when I was really poor and about 18 or 19, and how bleak it is,” she said. “I was working as a cleaner for about 100 pounds a month. I went in for an interview for washing dishes in a restaurant, after drama school. I didn’t get the job … The only thing available that will always recruit is the f–king sex industry. And I remember being angry about that. Because you’ve got seedy men looking at you, and you think, ‘You’ve got no idea how talented I am, or where I want to be, or what my morals are.’ You just see a pair of t–s. People who come from a stable upbringing don’t have to put themselves through that sort of stuff.”
Cooper said that filming “Rain Dogs” brought up memories from her past that, “I suppose I haven’t dealt with.”
She recalled a time when she was 20 and living under one roof with her brother and her parents. “It was like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ [My brother and I] were working as cleaners because our parents were both unemployed and couldn’t get jobs at the time. It was hell.”
They lived outside of London, but she had to take a bus there for an audition for the show “Call the Midwife.”
“I had to take 9 pounds out of the family’s food budget to get a [bus] to London. I only had one pair of shoes, these sandals that had fallen apart, and I had to tape them, and walk from Victoria coach station into Central London,” she said. “I remember feeling so anxious, because I had such a stressful time just even getting there … That’s what Costello goes through on a daily basis. It would be so easy for anyone else. That’s what reminded me [of my life] so much. I was terrible in the audition, and you go ‘Of course I was,’ because there was so much invested in it. And I had to go back and tell my family, ‘That was really bad.’
“I’m grateful there’s a show that’s as gritty as ‘Rain Dogs.’ It’s not poverty porn. It’s being real.”