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Did Peacock's Epic Gladiator Series Those About to Die Really Film in Rome? Everything to Know

All 10 episodes of gladiator goodness are now streaming on Peacock.

By Josh Weiss

Later this year, director Ridley Scott will return audiences to the sword-and-sandals world of Gladiator in a long-awaited sequel to his Oscar-winning epic centered around the bloody politics and combat of Ancient Rome.

But fans don't need to wait until November to satisfy their craving for Colosseum carnage, because Peacock just delivered a satisfying dose of gladiatorial goodness in this month's new original series, Those About to Die!

RELATED: Those About to Die: Everything to Know About Roland Emmerich's Gladiator Series on Peacock

Directed and executive-produced by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012), the new series takes place "in the corrupt world of the spectacle-driven gladiatorial competition, exploring a side of ancient Rome never before told — the dirty business of entertaining the masses, giving the mob what they want most… blood and sport," reads the official synopsis. It goes on to promise "an ensemble of characters from all corners of the Roman Empire who collide at the explosive intersection of sports, politics, and dynasties."

Did Those About to Die Really Film in Rome?

Yes! Those About to Die was filmed at the iconic Cinecittà Studios in Rome.

One of the largest movie studios in Europe, Cinecittà — which began life as a propaganda machine for Benito Mussolini's fascist government — has been in operation for close to a century, serving as the backdrop for such classic productions as Roman Holiday (1953), Ben-Hur (1959), and Cleopatra (1963). In fact, the location became so popular with American filmmakers, that it eventually earned the nickname of "Hollywood on the Tiber."

Sets for the show were crafted by co-production designer and Italian native Laura Pozzaglio, who took inspiration from the archaeological findings in a number of key Italian cities, including Rome (her hometown), Naples, Pompeii, Ercolano, and Oplontis.

She, co-production designer Johannes Muecke, and their team "collaborated with several museums, so we could duplicate certain objects for our props, had a team of sculptors who replicated statues from the period, and our carpenters replicated furniture we had seen in Pompeii or history books," Pozzaglio explains in the production notes. "We always strived to be as accurate as possible."

What couldn't be achieved practically fell to VFX Supervisor Peter Travers, who utilized the LED Volume wall technology pioneered by The Mandalorian. "The wall we used is gigantic, about 51 meters in circumference and eight meters tall," he says. "It's made up of panels of LEDs and it lets things go off into infinity. Even with the smallest scenes of conversations, we could have the Colosseum or the Ancient Roman skyline in the background. It feels like the actors are really living in Ancient Rome."

How Peacock's Those About to Die Landed Its Iconic Shooting Locales

Titus, Emperor Vespasian and Domitian on Those About To Die episode 101

Not only did the show get an earlier release window than the long-gestating Gladiator sequel later this year, it also got its pick of a key Roman shooting location: the famous Cinecittà Studios. Speaking with Empire for the magazine's August 2024 issue (now on sale), creator, writer and executive producer Robert Rodat revealed Those About to Die beat Scott's high-profile sequel to the schedule to land the key location. In the end, Scott had to settle for Morocco and Malta.

"It's not a competition, but there are limited assets in Rome and it's my understanding that he was disappointed that he wasn't able to shoot there," said the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter behind Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. "For that, I apologize!"

RELATED: Those About to Die: Everything to Know About the Cast & Characters in Peacock's Gladiator Series

Rodat — who previously worked with Emmerich on The Patriot (2000) and 10,000 BC (2008) — also teased "a roadmap for multiple seasons, which we are jumping out of our skin with excitement over." Of course, it all depends on whether the Emperor (aka viewers at home) gives them the all-important thumbs up to proceed.

Who Stars in Those About to Die?

Those About To Die Keyart

Two-time Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) leads an ensemble cast comprised of Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), Sara Martins (Citadel), Tom Hughes (Infinite), Jojo Macari (Morbius), Moe Hashim (Ted Lasso), Johannes Haukur Johannesson (Vikings: Valhalla), Rupert Penry-Jones (The Batman), Gabriella Pession (Crossing Lines), Dimitri Leonidas (Centurion), Emilio Sakraya (One Night Off), David Wurawa (Project 2030), Pepe Barroso (Gran Turismo), Gonçalo Almeida (Monte Clérigo), Eneko Sagardoy (Irati), and Romana Maggiora Vergano (Cabrini).

When Does Those About to Die Premiere?

All 10, hour-long episodes of Those About to Die are now streaming on Peacock.

Emmerich directed five installments, with Marco Kreuzpaintner helming the rest. Harald Kloser and Gianni Nunnari are also executive producers with Stuart Ford, Lourdes Diaz, Miguel A. Palos Jr., Marco Kreuzpaintner, Herbert G. Kloiber, Martin Moszkowicz, Oliver Berben, Jonas Bauer, Charles Holland, and Namit Malhotra.

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