Peacock has announced that Oscar-winning veteran actor Anthony Hopkins has signed on for a key role in Roland Emmerich’s forthcoming gladiator drama Those About to Die. Hopkins will be playing the major character of Vespasian, the Emperor of Rome and head of the Flavian bloodline. This marks Hopkins’ first major TV series in four years since making his last appearance as Dr. Robert Ford during the second season of the sci-fi drama Westworld.
Vespasian’s character description describes the character as “battle tested, a rural upstart who claimed his throne after victory in a bloody ten-year civil war. He is aging and is despised by the Patricians jockeying for position in the Empire and looking to supplant his heirs to the throne the first chance they get.”
Those About to Die will be executive produced and directed by Emmerich through his Centropolis Entertainment banner and Saving Private Ryan scribe Robert Rodat, who will be writing the screenplay based on Daniel Mannix’s nonfiction book of the same name. Production is expected to begin this year in Italy.
“It is an epic drama set in the complex and corrupt world of spectacle-driven gladiatorial competition,” reads the synopsis. “The series introduces an ensemble of diverse characters from all parts of Roman society who collide at the intersection of sports, politics and dynasties of the ancient world.”
Those About to Die marks Emmerich’s first TV project in a decade since making his television directorial debut in 2012 with Dark Horse. He is best known for directing disaster survival films like Universal Soldier, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Moonfall.
Additional executive producers are Gianni Nunnari, Harald Kloser, Herbert G. Kloiber, Oliver Berben, Martin Moszkowicz, Stuart Ford, Lourdes Diaz, and Jonas Bauer. It is a production by AGC Studios, with Centropolis Entertainment, Hollywood Gang Productions and Street Entertainment producing.