Hail Caesar: Ditch Davey plays the Roman general in Netflix series

Ditch Davey and Jessica Green in ‘Roman Empire.’

After playing the villain in ABC TV’s Harrow and Erik Thomson’s feckless brother in the Seven Network’s 800 Words, Ditch Davey is happy that Netflix viewers can see him as a more nuanced character in Roman Empire: Master of Rome.

Davey plays Julius Caesar in the sequel to Roman Empire: Reign of Blood, which started streaming on Netflix on July 27 and follows the rise and fall of the general-dictator and his dynasty.

Co-directed by American John Ealer and Brit David O’Neill, the five-part docudrama was filmed in Auckland a year ago, one of the most lavish productions of the actor’s career, involving two full camera units, extensive battle scenes and 100 extras.

“It was organised chaos at times, but I am so proud of what we achieved,” he tells IF. Ben Black played Brutus with Jessica Green as Cleopatra and Tim Carlsen as Mark Antony, with Sean Bean as the narrator.

Davey enjoyed collaborating with much of the same crew he worked with on Starz’ Spartacus: War of the Damned. Asked if his Caesar dies a good death, he laughed and said: “I don’t know; I hope so.”

He will next be seen in the comedy mockumentary Shark Lords, the saga of two brothers who are extreme sportsmen, which was commissioned by the US network FX and shot in Miami. He plays the elder of two brothers who goes into a coma after a jumping accident. When he awakes, his brother gives him a proposition which no sane person would accept – so he agrees.

Davey will return to the swords-and-sandals era in Black Mountain, a feature film which will shoot in Tasmania later this year, the first from writer-director Christopher W. Bailey.

He will play the lead, Meren, who moves to a remote valley with his son Timothy (yet to be cast) after his wife dies in a fire. The character battles his own demons, inside and outside.

Like many actors, Davey has started developing his own projects including several with writer-director Andrew McKenzie. One is A Bullet Waits For You, an animated series about a tarnished Civil War veteran named Samuel who is shot and left for dead – betrayed by his brother Thomas.

“I have wanted to dip my toe into producing for a while. I am enjoying working on the other side of the camera,” he says.