Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Ciarán Hinds, Kenneth Cranham, Polly Walker, James Purefoy, Tobias Menzies, Lindsay Duncan, Indira Varma, Max Pirkis And Kerry Condon star
The year is 52 B.C. Four hundred years after the founding of the Republic,
After eight years of war, Gaius Julius Caesar has completed his masterful conquest of
Such is the situation when two soldiers of Caesar's 13th Legion, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, are ordered into the wilds of Gaul to retrieve their legion's stolen standard, the unifying symbol of Caesar's Legion, setting off a chain of circumstances that will entwine them in pivotal events of ancient
A co-production between HBO and the BBC,
Among the actors starring in the first season are Kevin McKidd ("Kingdom of Heaven") as Lucius Vorenus, Ray Stevenson ("King Arthur") as Titus Pullo, Ciarán Hinds ("Road to Perdition") as Gaius Julius Caesar, Kenneth Cranham ("Gangster No. 1") as Pompey Magnus, Polly Walker ("Patriot Games") as Atia of the Julii, James Purefoy ("Vanity Fair") as Mark Antony, Tobias Menzies ("Foyle's War") as Marcus Junius Brutus, Lindsay Duncan ("Under the Tuscan Sun") as Servilia of the Junii, Indira Varma ("Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love") as Niobe, Max Pirkis ("Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World") as Gaius Octavian and Kerry Condon ("Angela's Ashes") as Octavia of the Julii.
Episode #1: "The Stolen Eagle"
Debut date: Sunday, Aug. 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 30 (9:00 p.m.) and 31 (11:00 p.m.), and Sept. 1 (1:45 a.m.), 2 (10:00 p.m.), 3 (10:00 p.m.), 4 (8:00 p.m.) and 16 (8:00 p.m.).
HBO2 playdates: Aug. 28 () and 29 (), and Sept. 5 ().
52 B.C.: Eager to return to
"You rarely see onscreen the complexity and color that was ancient
"Human nature never changes," continues Heller, "and the great thing about the Romans, from a dramatic perspective, is that they're a people with the fetters taken completely off. They had no prosaic God telling them right from wrong and how to behave. It was a strictly personal morality, and whether or not an action is wrong would depend on whether people more powerful than you would approve. You were allowed to murder your neighbor or covet his wife if it didn't piss off the wrong person. Mercy was a weakness, cruelty a virtue, and all that mattered was personal honor, loyalty to yourself and your family."
"The other archetypal story is that these men have been away from home for eight long years. Vorenus is married with children who've grown up without him. His wife has been looking after herself. How do you reconnect with them? How do you go from war's brutalities to a civilized existence? When you're used to being in charge, how do you deal with ordinary human interactions when you can't kill someone who contradicts you?"
Working with the production team is historical consultant Jonathan Stamp, who formerly ran the archaeology department of the BBC. When the BBC came on as a co-production partner, Stamp began reviewing the scripts for historical authenticity on an occasional basis, which eventually became a full-time assignment.
Says Stamp, "We are doing everything we can to make these episodes historically authentic, which means researching and incorporating every kind of detail we can about the way our characters behave, the way they interact, how they dress and gesture, the kind of streets they walked down, the way they conducted their private and public lives. We are not, however, making a documentary. We're striving for authenticity because it enriches the experience of the drama for the viewer. For example, we know that Vorenus and Pullo are historical figures who were mentioned by name in Caesar's account of the Gallic wars. Bruno then invented the details of their lives."
While life among the aristocracy is fairly well documented, there are few direct sources for details about life among the poor and working class. "It's all about taking little clues and extrapolating from there. The three sources you have are archaeological, such as the ruins at
Living and working in
"It's been fantastic living here," agrees Kevin McKidd. "It's a way of life that just rubs off on you and makes the performance that much more authentic. And it's been such a rewarding experience to work with this cast. Just by being here you become a better actor because everyone's raising the bar for everyone else."
Adds Heller, "This cast has been just amazing. They've had to work so hard for so long, and the performances are fantastic. We're asking them to both be themselves, and be ancient Romans, which is a very hard thing to pull off."
"One of the most remarkable moments I've had on set was watching a scene, and forgetting that I was in ancient