“Abemus Papam!” Or at least Netflix does.
The successful film streaming service has chosen the Vatican as the setting for its next feature, ‘The Pope,’ which will begin filming November in Argentina.
The film will revisit the events surrounding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who will be played by Anthony Hopkins (‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘The Bounty’) and the subsequent election of Pope Francis, played by Jonathan Pryce (who recently finished his role in the HBO blockbuster series ‘Game of Thrones.’)
Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (who also directed critically acclaimed movies such as ‘City of God’ and ‘The Constant Gardener’) will direct the film, which is based on a screenplay by Anthony McCarten (‘The Theory of Everything.’)
According to reports, the drama will try to portray the humility and dedication to the poor of Francis, who in the film does not want to become pope, and his influence for change within the Catholic Church.
The pope and the Vatican have increasingly become a frequent topic on the small screen, with HBO launching its series ‘The Young Pope’ (starring British actor Jude Law) in October 2016, and Netflix buying the 2016 Italian miniseries ‘Call Me Francis’ (on Pope Francis’s life in Argentina).
The ‘Young Pope,’ directed by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino, became an unexpected success for HBO, which estimated that every episode in the series had been watched by about 4.7 million people, both on television and on its streaming platforms.
This renewed interest in the pontificate might be tied to the consistently high approval rating in the United States for Pope Francis, with 70 percent of Americans saying that they have a “very” or “mostly” favorable view of the pope, according to a January Pew Research Center survey.
The choice of actors to play in the new Netflix drama may offer a glimpse into the vision behind the film. Pryce will be donning the white skullcap after his appearance in the fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones,’ where he played the leader of a religious reform aimed at helping the poor, which loses sight of its goals and becomes increasingly power hungry.
It is not Pryce’s first time to play an Argentine: In 1996, he played Colonel Juan Perón in the film version of the musical ‘Evita’ alongside Madonna.
Meanwhile the choice of Hopkins, well known for interpreting highly complex and layered villains, to play the Emeritus Pope Benedict might raise some eyebrows; although the actor recently played a Catholic priest serving as an exorcist in 2011’s ‘The Rite.’