Jude Law on playing a revolutionary young pope who hides a troubled past in a controversial new drama...
DRAMA ude Law is taking on one of the most challenging roles of his career this week in the title role of The Young Pope, Sky Atlantic’s ambitious drama set in the Vatican’s corridors of power.
Directed by the Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, the 10-part series features Jude as Lenny Belardo, a fictional character who becomes the first American to be elected supreme pontiff and the youngest to hold the office in modern times.
Unconventional Lenny – who takes the name Pope Pius XIII – reveals both a radical agenda and a will of iron, as well as a fondness for chain-smoking and drinking Coke Zero at breakfast.
Here, Jude, 43, tells us more about his controversial take on the role of the Holy Father…
JWhat’s it like to play the Pope? Initially I got involved because of the opportunity to work with Paolo and then it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks that I would be playing the Pope. I really didn’t know how to do that in a believable way.
Then you pulled on the robes… Yes, actually doing that was extraordinary. It was a very special experience just putting on the white gown, even after six months it would still be amazing walking on set because of the reverence the outfit brings. Did the robes help in other ways? Absolutely. Lenny pulling on the robes is almost like him starting to play the part of the Pope and that felt very familiar to me as an actor. I was playing Lenny and he is playing at being Pope. There was a sort of echo. One of the most fascinating aspects is that Lenny’s very authoritarian and God-fearing. Did that surprise you? Oh, yes. My initial reaction was that it would be about a guy who’s caught scandalising the good Catholics with his behaviour, but the story is taken in the other direction. It’s more about someone who’s coming to terms with his calling and is also very dogmatic. The series has already been dubbed House of Cardinals because of all the scheming and double-crossing. Are you worried about the response it may generate? I hope I’m right about this, but I don’t think it’ll offend people. As we made the series, it didn’t feel as if we were being disrespectful to the Catholic Church, just that we were lifting the lid and having a good look at the dynamics underneath. We were examining the core nature of faith.
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