Domina trailer released by Sky Atlantic
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Domina premieres tonight (Friday, May 14) at 9pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW. The series follows the story of Livia Drusilla (played by Kasia Smutniak) and how she became one of the most influential women in Ancient Rome. The cast and creator Simon Burke of Domina spoke to Express.co.uk and other press ahead of the show’s launch about the real historical figures who feature in the show.
Which characters are based on real people in Domina?
Some of the characters are entirely fictional but are based on people who would have definitely existed at the time.
For example, Antigone (Melodie Wakivuamina) is a slave in the series but is not based on a particular historical figure.
Brother owner Balbina (Isabella Rossellini) is also entirely fictional.
Show creator Simon Burke explained to Express.co.uk and other press:” We didn’t invent any characters except slaves or murderers or the owners of a brothel.
“But it’s about the first royal family of Rome and those characters are well-known – where they were born, where they died – and those characters are all faithfully represented.
“What we know of their character, we will put that in. If nothing is known at all about them, then fine – we can invent as much as we want.”
Livia Drusilla, also known as Julia Augusta, was a real person, born on January 30, 58 BC.
She married her cousin Tiberius Claudius Nero and their son, Tiberius, would go onto be the future Emperor of Rome.
When Drusilla was pregnant with her second son, Gaius Julius Caesar – later the emperor Caesar Augustus- arranged for Drusilla to divorce her first husband Nero and marry him.
They stayed together for 51 years and she effectively ruled alongside him.
Drusilla is suspected of killing her husband his nephew Marcellus and following their deaths, she inherited a large share of Ceasar’s property.
Drusilla was determined to secure power for her son Tiberius and avenge her father, Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus (Liam Cunningham).
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other press, Kasia Smutniak who plays the older version of Drusilla said: “She was so clever. She was so amazing and she was in a way the first feminist. Her whole life she fought for rights for women, for herself, for her family.
“She used power in order to survive. Not in terms to use power for herself, but the power to survive and that is different.”
Nadia Parkes, who plays the younger version of Drusilla said: “The most interesting thing that I found out [about Drusilla] was she progressed so much of what we understand as feminism now and the female empowerment movement.”
She added: “And then it took thousands of years for women to get back to the point Livia had already taken too [following her death].”
Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus
Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus was Livia Drusilla’s real father.
In Domina, Marcus is played by Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham
Livius was a supporter of the Roman Republic and opposed the dictatorship of Julius Caesar.
He was also a senator and praetor and fought alongside Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in 42BC.
Following their defeat, Marcus killed himself in his tent to avoid being captured.
Speaking about his character to Express.co.uk and other press, Cunningham said: “The relationship that they have [his daughter Livia] is extraordinary.
“He didn’t treat her as, most women were, a second class citizen, he taught her about politics and diplomacy and the reasonability of duty and he treated her as an equal and has an unquestionable love for his child and I found that incredibly interesting in this huge epic story there is a humanity in it and that is the kind of thing, as an audience member, I find intriguing.”
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Tiberius Claudius Nero
Tiberius Claudius Nero (Enzo Cilenti) was a politician and the first husband of Livia Drusilla. Nero was also Livia’s cousin.
The pair divorced in 38BC after she was forced to marry Augustus, the future emperor.
He serves as a public official to Julius Ceaser in 48 BC and commanded his fleet in the Alexandrian War.
For his services, he was given a priesthood.
Gaius Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Ceasar (Matthew McNulty) was the great-nephew of Julius Caeser and was named in his will as his adopted son and heir.
He formed Second Triumvirate with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus to defeat Caesar’s assassin.
Following their success at the Battle of Philippi, they divided the Roman Republic into sections and ruled as dictators.
He is well known for establishing a tax system, developing roads and establishing Rome’s army.
McNulty told Express.co.uk and other press: “I got to play one of the most respected, revered and successful leaders in history so that is an appeal in itself.”
He added: “The great thing about Gaius and the attraction to this particular script is that he is intelligent, he is ruthless, he is scheming and he has got this drive for power that stems from a GOd complex basically, he thinks he is greater than humanity.”
Christine Bottomley stars as Scribonia in Domina on Sky Atlantic and NOW.
Scribonia was the second wife of Octavian, who would go on to become the Roman Emperor Augustus.
According to Suetonius, Scribonia was married three times; her first two husbands were consuls.
In 2BC, her daughter Julia was exiled to Pandateria for adultery and possible treason and Scribonia accompanied her voluntarily into exile, where she stayed for 15 years.
Around AD 4, Julia the Elder and Scribonia were allowed to return to the mainland and moved to Rhegium, where Augustus granted Julia property and a yearly income
Agrippa (Ben Batt) was a Roman general, statesman and architect.
He was also the close friend, son-in-law and lieutenant to Caeser Augustus.
Agrippa has gone down in history for establishing some of the most notable buildings in Rome, including the original Pantheon and Rome’s numerous military victories, most notably at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC against the forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
He married three times, his last wife being Julia the Elder, the daughter of Augustus.
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other press, Ben Batt who plays Agrippa said: “He was a very respected Roman general who was best friends with Gaius and we have evidence they grew up together and were educated together and developed a very close bond and this very lovely relationship really.
“What attracted me to Agrippa the most was I enjoyed we had this incredibly hardened battle-ready successful general who also must of been a fiercely intelligent man, designing certain infrastructure in Rome, helping to build the pantheon and sewage systems in Rome.
“He was just a very very powerful figure who did not once make a grab for power himself and I thought that must of been very interesting at the time.”
Claire Forlani stars as Octavia in Domina on Sky Atlantic and NOW.
Octavia was the elder sister of the first Roman Emperor Augustus.
She was the half-sister of Octavia the Elder, and the fourth wife of Mark Antony.
Octavia is regarded as one of the most prominent women in Roman history.
Domina airs Fridays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic
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