The Emmy winner, who also plays a pivotal role in "Zero Dark Thirty," will portray Cardinal Thomas Duffy in the contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics. Chandler's character is described as a charismatic yet enigmatic Archbishop of New York, whose progressive leanings excite some and alarm others within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Also read: Ridley Scott, Paul Attanasio Working on 'Vatican' Pilot for Showtime
Matthew Goode ("Watchmen") and Sebastian Koch ("The Lives of Others") have also joined the cast of the pilot, which was written by Attanasio and will be directed by Scott.
Goode is playing Papal Secretary Bernd Koch — the current Pope’s closest confidante — while Koch is set to play the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Marco Malerba.
Showtime president of entertainment, David Nevins, executive produced "Friday Night Lights," which featured Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor.
“Kyle Chandler is one of the most talented and sought-after actors working today, and was a fantastic creative partner through five seasons of 'Friday Night Lights,'" Nevins said in a statement. "With Kyle, Matthew Goode and Sebastian Koch, Ridley and Paul have put together a powerhouse cast to anchor this incredibly timely show.”