Those About To Die Actors Iwan Rheon and Sara Martins Discuss Exploring Rome’s Criminal Underworld in the Exciting New Show (INTERVIEW)

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Game of Thrones fans might recognize Iwan Rheon for his star-making turn as Ramsay Bolton, but his latest role is as Tenax, a mobster in ancient Rome, in the new series Those About To Die. His co-star Sara Martins plays Cala, a trader hoping to rescue her son who was sold into the world of gladiators.

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We at FandomWire got to speak with Rheon and Martins about their roles in Those About To Die and the complexity of their characters. Check out the full interview here:

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THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 101 — Pictured: Iwan Rheon as Tenax— (Photo by: Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Those About To Die Interview

FandomWire: So I think the fact that the two of you are paired together is fascinating because Mr. Rheon, you’re one of the most morally ambiguous characters in Those About To Die, and Ms. Martins, you’re one of the more morally righteous characters. Why do you think it’s interesting that the show explores these different sides of morality within this subset of Roman society?

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Sara Martins: Well, nicely said, Thank you for that question. But as the show goes on, it feels like the character of Tenax is not as one-sided as we thought. He’s not just this questionable man. And you’ll discover that Cala, she can do bad things, too. Obviously, she’s driven by the love of her children and to try to save them, so obviously, her motivations are more moral. But it’s complex, it’s not only one color in every account.

Iwan Rheon: I think that’s what’s really fascinating about this show. I mean, everybody has a motivation, and everybody was trying to screw each other over or get higher trying to climb that ladder. Everybody does have a different side.

And I think what’s interesting is that we have to remember that the structure of Roman society is very different to ours. You can’t become a Patrician. You can’t buy that — you have to be one, you have to be born into it. So the idea of, for example, Tenax wanting to run his own faction… is absolutely outlandish. It’s insane. Nobody’s ever done it before. It’s ridiculous because the Patricians have always run this. That’s how it is. It’s been going on for hundreds of years.

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But you know, back to, I guess, every society has all sorts of different levels. And I think what this show does really well is it gives such a great cross-section of Roman society, which I don’t think people have really seen before. It’s usually about the Emperor, or it’s about the Legion or Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. But this is about Roman life at a particular time. And you go straight in.

those about to die
THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 101 — Pictured: Iwan Rheon as Tenax — (Photo by: Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

FW: Mr. Rheon, what was the challenge in finding the humanity in a character that does some unsavory things?

Rheon: Well, I’m obviously helped with good writing that they’ve written that he looks after the kids who he sees himself in because he was one of those kids — he grew up on the streets. It’s that sort of dilemma within him that he despises this patriarchal, hierarchical society and the Patricians and the aristocracy. But he’s desperate. He wants it. That’s his ambition play.

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And I think everyone can see that he’s kind of like the poor man’s champion. He’s one of the people, and I think as the show developed, you see, especially in the relationship with Cala, you see a very different side of Tenax. She kind of disarms him in many ways, and he becomes more vulnerable, and you start to really get to know who he is and where he’s coming from.

those about to die
THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 103 — Pictured: Sara Martins as Cala— (Photo by: Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

FW: And Ms. Martins, I’d say your character is a big part of the show’s emotional core. Why do you think a storyline like yours, rooted in emotion, is necessary for an “action-focused” show like Those About to Die?

Martins: Yes, definitely. I’m very conscious of that. But I think also it shows that there are other races and other fights than those in the arena. Obviously, you want the spectacle of the races and the gladiator fights, but we show people thriving, and the journey of the mother is as grave as the journey of a gladiator. She’s fighting with all the tools she can find. 

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And yeah, I think that was really important to have that arc in the show and also to show that the Roman society was built with all those people coming from everywhere. The journey, how they participated in that society, from the poor people, the slaves being bought and everything so I love that the show shows the diversity of the population of Rome at the time.

Those About To Die streams on Peacock beginning July 18.

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Sean Boelman

Written by Sean Boelman

Articles Published: 174

Sean is a film critic, filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include music documentaries, heist movies, and experimental horror.