What’s it like to play Pope Francis? An interview with Jonathan Pryce on ‘The Two Popes’

Anthony Hopkins portrays retired Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce portrays Pope Francis in a scene from the movie "The Two Popes." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS photo/Peter Mountain, courtesy NETFLIX) 

If you are a fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” you probably remember thinking when you first saw the High Sparrow: Wow, that guy looks exactly like Pope Francis. That guy was Jonathan Pryce, a distinguished Welsh actor on the stage and screen. And it was a likeness that proved irresistible for the director of “The Two Popes,” now streaming on Netflix. In the film, Pryce plays Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who has been called to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins), to discuss the latter’s decision to renounce the papacy.

Advertisement

We ask Pryce how he prepared to play the pope, whether the film changed his perception of the Catholic Church, and about his own spirituality.

“I’ve been asked: How did you build this character? I didn’t. He did, and I follow in his footsteps.”

In Signs of the Times, Pope Francis abolished the “pontifical secret” for cases of sexual abuse; how are advocates and victims reacting? Also at the Vatican, the Peter’s Pence collection comes under scrutiny for potentially misleading donors. And in U.S. church news, Gwen Stefani needs an annulment, a survey of how the length of homilies compare to sermons in other denominations and a bishop opens up about mental illness.

Tell us what you think about the episode on our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and help other listeners find Jesuitical by leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts. Please consider supporting the show by becoming a member of our Patreon community. Patrons get access to an exclusive newsletter written by one of your hosts each week!

Links from the show

Pope Francis abolishes the pontifical secret for sexual misconduct cases involving clerics
Is the Vatican misleading donors? Peter’s Pence, explained.
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Are Ready to Get Married But It "Isn't Possible Currently" Because of Her Faith
An Analysis of Online Sermons in U.S. Churches
Bishop Conley announces medical leave of absence from Lincoln diocese
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/12/09/us-catholic-priests-beset-overwork-isolation-and-scandals

What’s on tap?

Fanta

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

Advertisement

The latest from america

Pope Francis welcomes Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi to the Vatican Jan. 17, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
The Vatican revealed that the pope and president discussed “the good existing bilateral relations” between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and expressed “satisfaction” at the ratification of the framework agreement between the two countries on matters of mutual interest.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 17, 2020
(CNS photo/Warner Bros.)
“Joker” is more than just another comic book film. It has hit a nerve with an already nervous American public.
Jake MartinJanuary 17, 2020
Rev. Matthew F. Malone, S.J., president and editor in chief of America Media, announced today the appointment of Traug Keller as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Mr. Keller currently serves as senior vice president of ESPN, the global sports network, which announced his
America StaffJanuary 17, 2020
Scene from "The Trojan Women" at La MaMa Experimental Theater Club
Since 1975, a touring production of “The Trojan Women” staged by New York’s La MaMa Experimental Theater Club has played in more than 30 countries.
Deniz DemirerJanuary 17, 2020