“I was never really nervous about playing a living character,” British actor says
Was it divine intervention that led Jonathan Pryce to portray Pope Francis in “The Two Popes,” or was it just an internet meme? Pryce said he knew he might eventually play His Holiness after side-by-side comparisons posted online showed the actor’s remarkable resemblance to Francis.
“It seemed it was going to be on the cards for quite awhile,” Pryce told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “The day Pope Francis was declared pope, the internet was full of images of me and him, and ‘Is Jonathan Pryce the Pope?’ Even my son texted me, ‘Dad are you the Pope?'”
Pryce stars in “The Two Popes” opposite Anthony Hopkins, who portrays Pope Benedict. Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”) wrote the screenplay about what compelled one of the most traditional Popes in history to retire from his position and take on the title of Pope Emeritus, something that has not occurred in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in over 700 years.
But of course Pryce didn’t just take the part in Fernando Meirelles’s (“City of God”) because he’s got a holy twin.
“Like Fernando, I’m a huge admirer of Pope Francis and what he’s trying to do, not just for the Catholic Church but society in general,” Pryce said. “He’s a great inspiration for a lot of us. I was never really nervous about playing a living character or real character that people have an image of, and I’ve played a few of them in my time.”
“He is a very important voice in the world today. He sees the world as one planet, one thing, one brotherhood,” Meirelles said. “While everybody is trying to build walls, he’s trying to build bridges.”
Netflix is releasing “The Two Popes” first into theaters for a limited release on Nov. 27 followed by on the streaming platform on Dec. 20.
Watch TheWrap’s video with Pryce, Meirelles, McCarten and Juan Minujín, who plays a young Pope Francis when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio, above.