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Anthony Hopkins to Play Roman Emperor in Roland Emmerich’s Gladiator Series ‘Those About to Die’

Historical drama received a straight-to-series order from Peacock last year

Multiple Academy Award-winner Anthony Hopkins has signed on to star in “Those About to Die,” director Roland Emmerich’s upcoming historical drama about gladiators in the early Roman Empire, the show’s studio, AGC Television, announced Wednesday.

Hopkins, the first major cast member announced for the project, will portray Roman Emperor Vespasian, best known to modern people as the ruler ultimately responsible for the brutal defeat of the Judean revolt of 66-73 C.E., and whose public works projects included the Colosseum of Rome. He reigned from 69-79 C.E., giving us some idea of when the series takes place.

Inspired by the best-selling 1958 book of the same name by Daniel Mannix — which also inspired Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film “Gladiator” — “Those About to Die” depicts the spectacle, violence and deeply corrupt world of gladiatorial sports during the Roman Empire. Per the official description, “the series introduces an ensemble of diverse characters across the many layers of Roman society where sports, politics, and business intersect and collide.”

Peacock gave “Those About to Die” a direct to series order in June, 2022. The show doesn’t yet have a release date.

Emmerich will direct the series and executive produce alongside Robert Rodat (“Saving Private Ryan,” “The Patriot”), who is also adapting the book for television. Emmerich is executive producing through his company Centropolis Entertainment. Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari (“The Departed,” “300”) and Street Entertainment’s Harald Kloser (“2012,” “Independence Day: Resurgence”) will executive produce alongside High End’s Oliver Berben, Herbert G. Kloiber, Martin Moszkowicz and Jonas Bauer. AGC CEO Stuart Ford and chief content officer Lourdes Diaz also executive produce. 

Hopkins has twice won the Academy Award for Best Actor, first for ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (1991) and then for ‘The Father’ (2020), and he’s been nominated a total of three times.