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SYFY WIRE Those About to Die

Roland Emmerich's Peacock series 'Those About to Die' casts Anthony Hopkins as Roman emperor

The two-time Oscar-winner will don a toga and head for the nearest Colosseum.

By Josh Weiss
:Roland Emmerich; Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins is donning a toga and heading for the nearest Colosseum. Peacock announced today that the two-time Oscar recipient has officially been cast in the "pivotal" role of Roman Emperor Vespasian for Roland Emmerich's upcoming gladiator series — Those About to Die. The battle-tested head of the Flavian bloodline, Vespasian took the throne following a decade-long civil war. He's ruled for quite some time, but must be wary of Patrician opponents that seek to put their own heirs into the ultimate position of power.

This is the first casting announcement for the show, which takes place in the "complex and corrupt world of spectacle-driven gladiatorial competition," reads the official synopsis provided by the NBCUniversal-owned streaming platform. "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."

Emmerich (who is known for helming and co-writing sci-fi classics like Stargate and Independence Day) is directing the project, working off scripts from Academy Award nominee Robert Rodat (scribe of Steven Spielberg's harrowing WWII drama, Saving Private Ryan).

Both Emmerich and Rodat serve as executive producers alongside Harald Kloser (Independence Day: Resurgence, Midway), Gianni Nunnari (The Departed, 300), Oliver Berben (Resident Evil), Herbert G. Kloiber (Professionals), Martin Moszkowicz (Pandorum), Jonas Bauer (The Defeated), Stuart Ford (Moonfall), and Lourdes Diaz (The Tinder Swindler).

RELATED: Roland Emmerich & Peacock head to ancient Rome with new gladiator series ‘Those About to Die’

“The powerful Roman Empire has always fascinated me, especially its enormous games which entertained the masses through spectacle at the monumental Colosseum,” Emmerich said in a statement once Peacock handed down a straight-to-series order last summer. “At its heart, this is a sports epic led by strong and diverse characters who explore paths to glory, falls from grace and a need to belong to something greater than oneself. Sports in these ancient times were as thrilling and massive then as they are today, and I'm excited to collaborate with my partners, Peacock, High End Productions, Hollywood Gang, and AGC Studios, in bringing this rich world of blood, sweat and tears to television.”

Those About To Die takes on Ancient Rome in a completely new way,” added Lisa Katz, president scripted content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming (via Deadline). “While the series will be epic in scope and have the spectacle of gladiators and chariot racing, it also has unexpected characters amidst palace intrigue and a dark criminal underworld. We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the unmatched creative minds of Roland Emmerich, Robert Rodat, Harald Kloser, AGC Studios and Gianni Nunnari’s Hollywood Gang to create this bold, action-packed series for Peacock audiences.”

Want to see more of Hopkins' impeccable acting chops? Head over to Peacock for 1979's Magic.