Ditch Davey has always been fascinated by prisons, fearless warriors and religious deities. But who doesn’t enjoy dressing in historic yet playful get-ups? What compelled the Australian actor most in adapting Julius Caesar in Netflix’s Roman Empire was the opportunity to explore the dictator’s rise and eventual fall — let’s not forget his famed dynasty.
“The series satisfies the dramatic and salacious stuff that interested me, but it also had an emotional resonance to it that I felt didn’t just make it a dark and nihilistic story,” Davey says. “I didn’t think I could have an opportunity to play someone like Caesar — I was very happy to jump on board.”
Narrated by Sean Bean, Roman Empire tells the story of Commodus, played by Aaron Jakubenko, the Emperor who eventually brought down the longstanding empire. It isn’t Netflix’s first foray within the documentary category, but it stands on its own as a benchmark, combining the knowledge of historians who reveal what’s going to happen or divulge on what just occurred.
To play a politically adept and popular leader, Ditch tapped into the past; a touch of brusque from his former Spartacus warrior-counterpart, Nemetes, with a hint of masculinity from his Sea Patrol character Captain Jim Roth. “As an actor, it’s about the quality of the production rather than the size of the screen,” he adds. “You’ve really got to take what’s in the script and be flexible within your mind to be able to jump from role to role. It’s like a muscle — always stretching to adjust to everything thrown at you.”
Beyond the gladius of it all, the mere idea of being on Netflix was enough to evoke a certain giddiness out of Davey, but that joy is only compounded by the praise that’s lauded the series for its attention to detail. “It means everything and that was the goal that the directors were going for,” says the Australian-born actor. “That mix of history, darkness, adventure and swashbuckling were something that none of us had really seen on the screen before, and it was so fresh and exciting to bring all those elements back.”
Of course, one does not simply just act for a living.
“Right now, I’m watching Ozark starring Jason Bateman, and The Staircase, an unbelievable documentary series. Outside of that, I’m working with a bunch of people on various Australian film projects. It’s a busy time for a busy man — and I’m enjoying every second of it.”