two gladiators duke it out using swords in an arena

Anthony Hopkins’ New Series Could Be The Brutal & Brilliant Gladiator Hit We Crave

Fans of Gladiator, Rome, and even Game of Thrones … have we got a show for you! Peacock just dropped the latest trailer for its upcoming drama Those About To Die, and to say it looks epic is an understatement.

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There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Those About To Die, and the series seems poised to fill a spot in our fandom we didn’t even notice was lacking. I mean, who doesn’t love a glossy big-budget show filled with gritty swordfights, spicy sex scenes, and incredible battles against predators of all species? So when can we jump into the arena to fight to the death? Details below.

A winning creative team is behind Those About To Die

The creative minds behind the series are impressive on their own merit, starting with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat penned 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, among others, and his talent for writing exciting and shockingly realistic action sequences is well documented. Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins will star, and Roland Emmerich, who also helped develop the show, will direct five of the 10 episodes in season 1.

Emmerich is known in the industry as a “master of disaster” and is best known for writing/producing/directing big blockbusters including Independence Day (1996) and Godzilla (1998). BAFTA-winning German filmmaker Marco Kreuzpaintner, who previously directed the Netflix series Bodies and the Amazon Prime series Beat, will direct the remaining five episodes.

What is Those About To Die about?

The new Peacock series is based on the 1958 nonfiction classic novel Those About To Die by Daniel P. Mannix. This book was also the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe. It’s about a powerful ruler named Emperor Vespasian (Hopkins) and takes place during the Roman Empire. Incidentally, Vespasian was a real emperor who ruled Rome from 69 to 79 A.D.

In the trailer, Vespasian appears to be opening an arena for the kind of infamous gladiator battles we witnessed in Gladiator and the HBO series Rome. A lot has changed in the past twenty years, though, and something tells us that, for better or for worse, the developments in CGI technology will play a big part in this series, especially at the hands of a “master of disaster” like Emmerich.

“Life is of little value in Rome, living in the shadow of the rich and powerful, but all of this is about to change,” Emperor Vespasian intones in the trailer. “Soon I shall cross to the kingdom of darkness, but nothing is more important than protecting our beloved Rome.” Ooh … ominous!

Who else will star in Those About To Die?

Those About To Die will feature an ensemble cast. In addition to Hopkins, confirmed cast members include Iwan Rheon (a.k.a. the hateful Ramsay Bolton in HBO’s Game of Thrones!), Sara Martins, Tom Hughes, Jojo Macari, Moe Hashim, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Rupert Penry-Jones, Gabriella Pession, Dimitri Leonidas, Emilio Sakraya, David Wurawa, Pepe Barroso, Gonçalo Almeida, Eneko Sagardoy, and Romana Maggiora Vergano.

When and where can we watch Those About To Die?

Those About To Die premieres on July 1, 2024 on Peacock. There will be 10 episodes total.

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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.