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Since taking the highest office in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has made a name for himself as being different from his predecessors. Many of his positions on controversial issues don’t quite fall in line the church’s stated positions from the past, and he has a tendency to do some wild things - like take the bus or drive in a Fiat rather than take the normal, high profile motorcade. Now the Pope is going to truly try something that no Pope has ever done before. He’s going to test out his acting chops.
While the Pope has made it on a movie screen as part of B-roll footage in the past, and numerous actors have played the Pope in movies, no actual Pope has ever been in an actual movie. That will change when Pope Francis plays himself in the upcoming feature Beyond the Sun. Described as a "family adventure based on the gospels" by Variety, the movie is being produced by Ambi Pictures and is set to begin principal photography early this year.
There’s no word exactly why Pope Francis decided that this was the time, or the right film for the Pope to make his feature film debut - though, to be fair, it’s not clear if any previous Pope has ever been asked to make a movie. Maybe they’ve all secretly had dreams of going Hollywood, but they’ve never had the chance because nobody ever asked them.
Part of the reason that Pope Francis may have been willing to do this is because it’s for a good cause. All of the films profits will be donated to a pair of Argentinian charities which help at-risk children and young adults. Certainly the fact that the Pope is in the movie will draw many people to it, which in turn will greatly help these causes.
It’s also possible that Francis just wanted the inside track on a role in the planned remake of Memento which is also planned by AMBI.
There’s no word who else will be starring in the film alongside his Holiness, but Ambi Pictures has worked with a number of Hollywood stars in the past, including Salma Hayek, Adrien Brody, James Franco, and Bryan Cranston, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this could end up with a star-studded cast. Pope Francis is a pretty popular figure these days, even among non-Catholics, so there might be a large contingent of Hollywood who would love to be opposite him in a scene.
Admit it, you’re a little curious to see if the Pope can act. It’s not clear how big a role this will be but we’re hoping for more than a basic cameo. If you’ve got him on board, use him. Let’s see if he can be the first Pope to win a Golden Globe.