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Gladiator fans, this new Peacock original is perfect for you

Published Jun 13th, 2024 8:04PM EDT
Those About to Die on Peacock
Image: Reiner Bajo/Peacock

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These are boom times for fans of stories about the gladiators of ancient Rome. Director Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel, for example, is arriving in theaters later this year and will focus on the character of Lucius Verus — the nephew of Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus. And then there’s Peacock, which has an Anthony Hopkins-led series about the Roman Empire’s gladiatorial games coming to the streaming service just a little over a month from now.

Those About to Die — a 10-episode drama from creator Robert Rodat, who also wrote the movie Saving Private Ryan — crams everything from sex and political intrigue to chariot races, warriors fighting lions, and generally bloody combat among gladiators into its adaptation of Daniel Mannix’s 1958 novel (which was also an inspiration for Scott’s film).

“I have always been fascinated by the history of the Roman Empire,” director and executive producer Roland Emmerich says in a press note about the series, which debuts on July 18. “So much still seems relevant for our society today — from the entanglement of politics and sports to the disciplines of the competitions, which haven’t changed much either over the last 2000 years.

“My goal was to create a show that explores a side of Rome never told before — the dirty business of entertaining the masses, giving the mob what they want most … blood and sport.”

The show takes place in Rome circa 79 A.D., at a time when chariot racing and gladiator battles are one of the key ways that the Roman population is held together. The characters in Those About to Die come from all walks of life from across Rome, and all of them sit at the violent intersection of politics and sport.

This new series, by the way, is also one more reason not to take Peacock for granted, as it’s increasingly racking up one top-quality show after another with the likes of Poker Face, We Are Lady Parts, and much more.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.