Those About To Die Actors Jojo Macari and Tom Hughes Talk the Explosive Show’s Twisted Brothers (INTERVIEW)

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One of the most interesting parts of Roland Emmerich’s new Ancient Rome-set series Those About To Die is the Succession-like struggle for power at the center of the Empire. The two main forces in this are Titus (Tom Hughes) and Domitian (Jojo Macari), two brothers who are the sons of Emperor Vespasian (Anthony Hopkins).

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We at FandomWire spoke with Hughes and Macari about their characters in Those About To Die, and how they brought to life some of the more complicated arcs in the show. Check out the full interview here:

Those About To Die Interview

FandomWire: Both of your characters in Those About To Die are very morally ambiguous, and we’ve seen a lot of popular shows explore characters that aren’t traditionally “likable.” Why do you think audiences are interested in these morally complex stories like Those About To Die?

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Jojo Macari: Wow, good question. I hope that watching complex characters with depth is ultimately more interesting. Because, ultimately, it’s a lot more fun to play. And Domitian, to quote Shrek, is a lot like an onion. You know, he’s a really layered guy. There’s a lot going on. And that makes it really fun to sort of dig your teeth into — unlike an onion.

Tom Hughes: I think what Jojo said, I think that, hopefully, one would be enticed to watch more complex characters. But I think it’s also we’re looking at a story that’s 2000 years old here. And it’s seeing the animals that these characters are within the context of that time. And it’s a very unique period of time. And I think that in itself is an intrigue as well.

Yes, there’s the human condition — Shakespeare’s still as relevant as prevalent today because the human condition, one can relate to it. But also, you’re telling the story that the context is paramount because otherwise, the depths of that human experience of that time can’t really be delved into without understanding the climate within which they’re happening. So it’s that balance, I guess. 

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THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 101 — Pictured: Jojo Macari as Domitian — (Photo by: Matteo Graia/Peacock)

FW: Of course, the two of you play brothers in Those About To Die, but your characters are incredibly different. Did you find it challenging to strike a balance between being similar enough to be believable as people raised by the same father and having your own unique characteristics?

Macari: I mean, I think first things first, it’s important to say that me and Tom are very close, we’re good mates. And so, the dynamic is slightly different off the screen to in the script. You know, it’s a real pleasure working with my good friend, Tom Hughes, we really hit it off from day dot.

And then similarly, I think with our scenes, we really just started going for it, and we’re working with a director like Roland [Emmerich]. He gives you a lot of freedom to play and a lot of freedom to explore. And I think me and Tom pretty quickly just started rolling with it, which was really fun. So I guess, developing that dynamic is they’ve come from very, very different places, and their upbringing is totally different, and have in a way, like two strangers living in the same house.

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THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 101 — Pictured: Tom Hughes as Titus — (Photo by: Reiner Bajo/Peacock)

Hughes: Just to add to that, because it’s really an interesting point. Jojo was right about them growing up in different places. I think the hierarchical element of the expectation of what their lives are going to become is massive in this. So you could look at the nature of Titus and Domitian, you could look at the nurture, but fundamentally, the skeleton is there from the start.

And the fact that Titus’s life is defined by the expectation of what he needs to become and what he fundamentally will become and step into it. Whereas Domitian — so to speak for Domitian, Jojo, for a second — he doesn’t have that. So that in itself is a schism. That’s a bridge that there is a challenge for them to cross, and then throw in their different rhythms and different natural instincts, and it’s a melting pot.

But in terms of us working together, that kind of just took care of itself. And we didn’t really talk about work a lot, did we man? We would kind of hang out on set and off set, and just kind of hope that it would just fly and I have to say Anthony [Hopkins] set the tone for that. You know, Anthony really set the tone for this being something where we get involved with each other, and you listen, and you play. And that was just a thrill.

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THOSE ABOUT TO DIE — Episode 101 –Pictured: (l-r) Tom Hughes as Titus, Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian, Jojo Macari as Domitian (Photo by: PEACOCK)

FW: Mr. Macari, I think your character has the most pronounced arc in Those About To Die in terms of growth from the beginning to the end (I’m trying to dance around spoilers). What did you find most interesting about exploring this transition?

Macari: Yeah, I mean, I think it was important to me to, although I’m playing a historical character who has some pretty extreme quirks, to put it lightly, to find the sort of vulnerability within him. And I think throughout the series, as the stresses and the strains build up, the cracks start to show and his vulnerability starts to show more and more and more. And so you see through the layers of who is ultimately a very complicated, complex, albeit twisted guy.

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.