Anthony Hopkins joins ancient Rome TV series based on ‘Gladiator’ book

The first casting announcement has been made for Those About to Die.

Peacock’s upcoming historical drama comes from the Oscar-nominated writer of Saving Private Ryan, Robert Rodat, and the producers of The Young Pope.

Set in the early days of the Roman Empire, Those About to Die is based on Daniel Mannix’s 1958 book of the same name.

Movie fans will know that this is the book which inspired Russell Crowe’s classic movie Gladiator in 2000.

Peacock’s new TV series is based in the “complex and corrupt” world of gladiatorial competition.

Deadline reports that Those About to Die will follow “an ensemble of characters from all parts of Roman society who collide in the arena.”

The show was commissioned by NBC’s streaming service back in June 2022, with Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) set to direct and produce.

Sir Anthony Hopkins has now been confirmed as the project’s first major cast member.

Best known for his iconic role in The Silence of the Lambs, the 85-year-old Welsh actor most recently starred in Armageddon Time last year:

In Those About to Die, Hopkins will play the character of Vespasian, a real-life Roman emperor who reigned from 69-79 CE.

The ageing Vespasian is described in the show’s official synopsis as being “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 begin filming at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome, Italy later this year.

The show is expected to premiere on Peacock in 2024.

Also coming up, Anthony Hopkins is playing Sigmund Freud in a new movie about the famous Austrian neurologist.

Freud’s Last Session is set on the eve of the Second World War, and co-stars Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode as Narnia author C.S. Lewis.

Gladiator is available to watch on Paramount+ with a free 7-day trial.