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'Domina' on Sky Atlantic: release date, cast, trailer and plot of Ancient Rome drama

Domina star Kasia Smutniak as Livia Drusilla.
First look at Domina star Kasia Smutniak as Livia Drusilla. (Image credit: Sky)

Domina will be taking us back to some very dangerous times in Ancient Rome, but we’re used to TV dramas about Roman times being all about the male soldiers, emperors and generals. Now Sky Atlantic's new historical drama series Domina will show a different side to Ancient Rome by portraying the classical civilisation from the perspective of its important women.

From the team behind Arctic thriller Fortitude, the 10-part family saga will follow the life and extraordinary rise of Livia Drusilla, the mother of the emperor Tiberius, who overcame adversity to become one of the ancient world’s most powerful women.

Filmed in the historic Cinecitta Studios in Rome and grounded in historical accuracy, the cast includes Kasia Smutniak, Isabella Rossellini, Matthew McNulty, Ben Batt and Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham.

Domina release date on Sky Atlantic

Filming began in Italy back in November 2019, and we're expecting Domina to arrive on Sky Atlantic some time later this year. 

What is Domina about?

Domina follows Livia Drusilla, a naïve young girl, whose world crumbles in the wake of Julius Caesar’s assassination. But she eventually becomes emperor Augustus’ wife and ends up navigating her way through a brutal male-dominated society by means of conspiracy, seduction and murder to become Rome’s most powerful and influential empress and to secure power for her son, Tiberius.

The drama covers the same time period as the classic 1976 series I, Claudius, which starred Derek Jacobi in the title role of the Roman emperor Claudius, alongside John Hurt (Caligula) and Patrick Stewart (Sejanus). It began with Augustus (Brian Blessed) contemplating his heir and successor, with Livia (Sian Phillips) assassinating all rivals to elevate her own son Tiberius to the position. 

Who is Kasia Smutniak and what’s her role in Domina?

Kasia takes the lead in Domina as Livia Drusilla (see main picture). She found fame in the film From Paris With Love opposite John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers and recently starred as Lily Dolittle in the 2020 film Dolittle.

"I’m thrilled to be playing such a complex character as Livia Drusilla," says Kasia. "As a frontrunner in defending women's rights, she was a tough woman who was both feared and cherished and was strong enough to seal the fate of the Roman Empire."

Who does Matthew McNulty play in Domina?

Misfits and The Mill star Matthew McNulty stars as Livia's second husband Gaius, who eventually becomes the future emperor Caesar Augustus...

While we interviewed Matthew for his guest role in Doctor Who in 2019, we also spoke to him about Domina while he was filming in Italy at the time. Here's what Matthew told us about his role:  

"Yes I'm playing Caesar Augustus who was the first emperor of Rome and probably one of the most successful Roman emperors, but this story is told through the eyes of his wife Livia Drusilla. It's all quite fascinating. Livia Drusilla was a powerful woman who had statues of her everywhere and her head on coins. 

"It was great doing scenes in the Roman senate as Augustus as he was well known for his oratory. I properly loved it and the actor really came out in me! I was milking every moment! There were loads of extras then and I felt very commanding strutting around in a toga!"

What’s Isabella Rossellini’s role in Domina?

Hollywood icon Isabella Rossellini is the daughter of legendary actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini, and who starred in hit movies such as Immortal Beloved, Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her. In Domina, Isabella plays Balbina, who is one of Livia’s early enemies.

Who else stars in Domina?

Domina filming

A recent 'Domina' filming shot. (Image credit: Sky)

It’s been revealed that Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) will join the cast as Livia’s father, Livius, while Christine Bottomley (The End of the F***ing World) plays Augustus’ ex wife Scribonia. The all-star cast also includes Ben Batt (The English Game) as Agrippa, Enzo Cilenti (Game of Thrones) as Tiberius Claudius Nero, and Claire Forlani (Hawaii Five-O) as Claudia Octavia.

Is there a trailer for Domina?

Not yet, watch this space!