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(Still) Mourning the Fall of 'Rome'

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Rome_lUnlike John from Cincinnati’s exodus from the cable line-up (for which I did not shed a tear), I’m still bumming about HBO’s premature cancellation of Rome. I’ll admit, with all the Sopranos series finale drama and Big Love madness of the last couple of months, the show I got hooked on pretty much in one OnDemand sitting sort of slipped my mind. Then last week, I went to an event at Barney’s in Beverly Hills celebrating the Rome season 2 DVD, where they displayed many of the costumes from the show. Upon seeing Mark Antony, Caesar, Lucius Verenus and Atia all in one room again (well, not really them, but the fabulous actors who brought them to life), those feelings of Sunday night emptiness came back with a vengeance. 

Why, oh HBO, why?! So Rome was a pricey production, but was there no way to fudge it? Say, shoot in the desert surrounding Joshua Tree rather than Italy? That’s what they did back when westerns got made on a dime. I guess with all those wars and hostile takeovers, you still need an awful lot of extras. Wonder what the fake blood budget was for the average episode? But I digress…

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in bemoaning the show’s loss. In between checking out Caesar’s super comfy-looking white robe and, on the opposite end, Antony’s chunky everyday armor, I chatted with Polly Walker (right, with James Purefoy), who played Atia, about her feelings on the series’ end. “On the night we finished, we all went out to dinner and I remember having this sort of stomach-ache and heartache like I’d been dumped,” she said. “And I supposed it was saying goodbye to Atia, who I’d become very attached to.” Though one thing she won’t be missing? The heavy (and beautiful) dresses. “They were all major,” says Polly. “The wigs were major, the big heels I walked around in everyday were major…” Funny, I thought the Romans were all about wearing flats, I said. “Most of them did,” she replied. “But I needed some height.”

addCredit(“James Purefoy and Polly Walker: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com”)

Of course she did. Every one of Rome’s main characters was looking down on somebody,after all. And most intimidating — in a very sexy way — of the bunchwas Antony, played by Purefoy. Here’s what he had to say: “Whatsaddened me was that we weren’t able to fully explore theCleopatra-Antony relationship, because that’s kind of what I signed upfor.” Purefoy went on to explain, in a hypnotizing British accent, thatto close out the show meant combining two seasons into one. “The ideawas that were were gonna take it up to Brutus’s death at the end of thesecond season, then Rome into Egypt on the next, so we jammed it allinto one. Having said that, we had such a great time filming. And fortwo and a half years, it was more than I could have hoped for.”

As for those super-steamy sex scenes with the queen of the Nile(played by Lyndsey Marshal)? Those were easy, he says. “They were twopeople who were passionately in love, hugely powerful, sexy, angrysoulmates and lovers. Plus, they were out of it and having these greatparties… Rock ‘n’ roll!”

Well, at least we’ll always have the DVDs…