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Roma Downey and Rachel Brosnahan on "The Dovekeepers"

Based on Alice Hoffman's best-selling novel, women's paths cross during the siege of Masada in ancient Israel during the first century
Based on Alice Hoffman's best-selling novel, ... 05:52

Executive producer Roma Downey was on a plane home to Ireland when she found herself immersed in the harrowing tale of "The Dovekeepers."

"I was so emotionally engaged, that the flight attendant came over and asked me if I was okay," she said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

Upon returning to her home in California, she phoned author Alice Hoffman to propose the idea of bringing her story to life.

"The Dovekeepers" takes place in A.D. 70 during the siege of Masada the the Romans in ancient Israel.

"I think that the first century is so rich in texture and story, it really was the darkest of times," Downey said. "The Roman regime was so incredibly cruel and when they came into the land, you know -- trying to take everything from these people."

Rachel Brosnahan plays Yael, one of two protagonists, and said the doves symbolized more than peace for the community.

"They ate them when they didn't have food, they collected their droppings to harvest the food that fed the community and also I think they were companions for these women," Brosnahan said. "They bonded in the dove cove. It was a sacred space for them, a space of peace."

Brosnahan, a "House of Cards" alum, recalled a unique moment while training with the doves.

"I made a friend named Gertrude who didn't fly away," she said. "You know they have so much energy and when you open your hands they're supposed to fly out and this one just sat in my hands."

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