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Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know

Poster for the series Those About to Die

The highly anticipated, epic sword-and-sandal series Those About to Die drops soon; here’s everything you need to know about it before starting your binge!


What an exciting summer full of epic action this is! In addition to the arrival of the Paris Olympics, July also brings the release of the highly anticipated, long-awaited epic series Those About to Die. Before you plunge into the modern sports of the Olympic games, Peacock is giving you a chance to immerse yourself in the sword-and-sandal series that promises to drop you smack dab in the middle of the gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome and all the powerful players who want a piece of its glory. Here’s everything you need to know about Those About to Die before securing your place in the arena and starting your binge!


What’s the plot of Those About to Die?

Those About to Die is a large-scale epic drama (and oh, how we love those!) set in the corrupt world of the spectacle-driven gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome. The series will explore a side of Ancient Rome never before told: the dirty, gritty business of entertaining the masses and satiating their mob lust for the two things they desire most, blood and sport.

Centered on gladiatorial combat and the cutthroat world of betrayal and behind-the-scenes politics, Those About to Die will introduce us to an ensemble of characters from all corners of the Roman Empire who collide at the intersection of sports, politics, and dynasties amongst the backdrop of the violent grandeur of Roman bloodsport. Yummy.


Who created Those About to Die?

Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – official trailer (Peacock)

Peacock’s Those About to Die hails from creators Robert Rodat, the Academy Award-nominated scribe behind Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), and iconic master of disaster director Roland Emmerich. The series draws its inspiration from the historical non-fiction book of the same name by late author Daniel P. Mannix.

“Those About to Die” was first published in 1958 as a historical book full of information about the true story of the life of Roman Gladiators, “based on known research and the facts”. The book was republished in 2001 under the title “The Way of the Gladiator” and serves as the inspiration for the 2000 Ridley Scott epic Gladiator (2000).


Everything you need to know before watching Those About to Die

The Those About to Die series is said to follow the book pretty closely, and in the book, we are educated with information about Roman circuses, which are the horrors of the arena. So, our story takes place in Rome in 79 AD, when it was the wealthiest city in the world, during a time of political stability. As its empire expanded, Rome collected an increasing number of slaves, which obviously lead to violence and unrest among its citizens. To “keep the peace”, Roman leaders provided their people with free food and grand spectacles, like horse racing with chariots and animal fights coupled with gladiator combats.

These events—games—were run by four major corporations, or factions: Blue, Green, Red, and White. Faction shares were considered amongst the most valuable possessions in Rome, and as such, they drive the thriving illegal gambling rings. So, as the bloodlust intensifies, the construction of the Colosseum is Rome’s center of entertainment.

But, as we all know, political stability is never what it seems, and as the games continue (and intensify), everyone from nobles to warriors to denizens of Rome’s underworld schemes for a leg up. Roman Emperor Vespasian is right in the middle of succession plans as he preens his eldest son as the heir apparent to his leadership title.


Who is our main cast and what are their roles?

I’d love to be able to tell you this epic sword-and-sandal series features a star-studded cast but alas, it does not, short of Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones). Nevertheless, our main cast is a notable one, so here’s a breakdown of who’s who and what you need to know about them.

Anthony Hopkins as Vespasian in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Anthony Hopkins as Vespasian in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Sir Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian

Sir Anthony Hopkins leads the cast of Those About to Die as Roman Emperor Vespasian. When we meet him, he’s about 10 years into his reign and is all too aware that his two sons are circling in contemplation of what they might do to secure power for themselves in the event of their father’s death. Vespasian was Roman Emperor from 69 to 79 AD and was the last emperor to reign in the Year of the Four Emperors, which is when our story takes place. Vespasian founded the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire for 27 years, and he is known for his efforts in bringing political stability and an expansive building program to the empire.

*Quick note: The Year of the Four Emperors was the first civil war of the Roman Empire, during which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian. It’s considered an important interval, marking the transition from the Julio-Claudians, the first imperial dynasty, to the Flavian dynasty.

Iwan Rheon as Tenax in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Iwan Rheon as Tenax in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Iwan Rheon as Tenax

You might best remember Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones, so it’s exciting to see what he’ll bring to another historical role. Like Vespasian, Tenax is a ruler, but of a different kind of empire. Tenax is the crime boss of the Roman underworld, running gambling operations for the chariot races and gladiatorial games. He’s a plebian, meaning he comes from a “hardscrabble life” on the streets; he is not a member of the patrician, senatorial, or equestrian classes; in other words, he’s an average working citizen of Rome. Over the years, he has risen to run his own operation—something he’s not inclined to share or surrender.

 Tom Hughes as Titus in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Tom Hughes as Titus in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Tom Hughes as Titus

One of the Emperor Vespasian’s sons, Titus is the one with the clearest line to the throne. He’s a tough-minded soldier, a military man. As the eldest son, he’s the heir apparent to the Flavian dynasty and works to secure his reputation as a Roman leader on the battlefield. However, just because he’s heir apparent doesn’t mean it’s set it stone, especially when the whole world around you is scheming for power. Titus is played by Tom Hughes, who is known for his work in historical dramas, having appeared in the series The Game, Victoria, and The English.

Jojo Macari as Domitian in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Jojo Macari as Domitian in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Jojo Macari as Domitian

Domitian is brother to Titus and Vespasian’s youngest son. While he is not expected to succeed his father on the throne, that hasn’t stopped him one bit from seizing power in other ways. Unlike his brother, who finds glory on the battlefield, Domitian finds his in the arenas of Rome as the city’s Master of Games, preferring to organize and stage-manage the gladiatorial contests and races for the amusement of Roman spectators. He’s calculating and cunning, described as “a ruthless but efficient autocrat” who’s authoritarian style of ruling put him at sharp odds with the Senate, whose powers he drastically curtailed. Domitian was the last member of the Flavian dynasty.

Jojo Macari’s recent credits include The Irregulars, Morbius, and Masters of the Air.

Sara Martins as Cala in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Sara Martins as Cala in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Sara Martins as Cala

Not everyone in Those About to Die has power or is seeking power in Rome. Some, like Cala, come to the city seeking other things. Cala is a Numidian trader with a formidable background. She comes to the Eternal City in an effort to bring her family back together after her son was sold into the world of gladiators. Determined to reunite with her children, she’s willing to do whatever it takes.

Though she has primarily worked in her native France, you might recognize Sara Martins from the mystery series Death in Paradise and the NBC series American Odyssey.

Moe Hashim as Kwame in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Moe Hashim as Kwame in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Moe Hashim as Kwame

Kwame is Cala’s son, a Numidian fighter, lion tracker, and great hunter who is captured by the Romans and sold into life as a gladiator. Knowing he is walking a hard, potentially deadly path, Kwame must find a way to survive the combat of the arena. Lucky for him, he possesses the fuel to that fire by having something to fight for: the chance to reunite with his family if he can survive.

You might best recognize Moe Hashim from Ted Lasso as Moe Bumbercatch.

Johannes Johanneson as Viggo in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Johannes Johanneson as Viggo in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Johannes Johanneson as Viggo

As he enters the ludus and begins his gladiator training, Kwame meets a number of other fighters. Some might prove to be friends; others will prove to be foes. Among those proving friendly is Viggo, a strong Norse warrior who’s an expert with the weapons of the arena. He’s a fighter and operator in the city’s underworld, and he forms a strong bond with Kwame, but how far will those bonds go when your life is on the line?

Johannes Johanneson is an Icelandic actor whom you might recognize from Game of Thrones, Vikings: Valhalla, and The Innocents.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Marsus in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Rupert Penry-Jones as Marsus in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Rupert Penry-Jones as Marsus

There’s never just one family vying for power in Rome. There are also other patricians with their own interests to pursue (and push), and among them is Marsus, a retired general who now owns a faction of charioteers who compete in races. Marsus commands influence in Rome, and how he applies it risks tipping the balance of power.

You’ll recognize Rupert Penry-Jones for his roles in The Batman, The Strain, Love Sarah, and Black Sails.

Gabriella Pession as Antonia in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Gabriella Pession as Antonia in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Gabriella Pession as Antonia

Behind every powerful man is, of course (and likely), a more powerful woman. Antonia is the wife of Marsus and is just as eager to exert her family’s influence over Rome as her husband is. Marsus might have all the honors, but Antonia is happy to pull her husband’s strings as she sees fit.

Gabriella Pession is best known for her work in Italy, as well as Rossella, Crossing Lines, and Station 19.

Dimitri Leonidas as Scorpus in Those About to Die, in a photo featured in an article with everything you need to know about the series
Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – Dimitri Leonidas as Scorpus in Season 1 (Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Dimitri Leonidas as Scorpus

If you think of the competitors in the Roman games as mere cannon fodder strictly there for the amusement of Romans, you’d be wrong. Those who were stellar at what they did became celebrities in their own right, and Scorpus was one of them. A charioteer with a proven track record and a hearty reputation as a winner, Scorpus was famous and known for being a hero of the games. He’s got the skills to win in the arena, aka Circus Maximus, and he also has a mercenary mindset, which means he’s happy to be hired on to any team for the right price. Scorpus rode for the Green faction during his lifetime and accumulated 2,048 victories as one of the most famous chariot drivers in Roman history.

You might’ve seen Dimitri Leonidas in films like The Monuments Men and Rosewater, and series like Riviera.


When will Those About to Die be released and where can I stream it?

The highly anticipated, epic sword-and-sandal series Those About to Die will drop its full 10-episode season on Peacock on Thursday, July 18. Get your best sandals ready; it’s gonna be a delectable binge!

Those About to Die review: Blood, Sport & Betrayal – Loud and Clear
Sword-and-sandal series Those About to Die shows us the blood, sport, and betrayal required to put on Ancient Rome’s gladiatorial games.
loudandclearreviews.com

Find out everything you should know about Gladiator 2 and read our list of historical fiction and fantasy series to binge!

Those About to Die: Everything You Need to Know about the Series – official trailer 2 (Peacock)
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