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The past several years of television have given audiences a wide selection of stars generally suited for the big screen, with an ever-expanding lineup of limited series and miniseries. Now we can look forward to Academy Award-nominated thesp Jude Law making his debut on American television as one of the most powerful men in the world, as he has signed on to play the Pope for the miniseries The Young Pope, which HBO has signed on to co-produce. I wonder if this means we’ll get debaucherous sex scenes and harrowing violence.
For The Young Pope, which is set to span eight episodes, Jude Law will play a fictionalized American pope who goes on to become the most conservative leader that the Vatican has ever housed, according to THR. There are several oddities surrounding this plotline, not the least of which is that Pope Francis, who currently holds the title, is possibly the most liberal and kindhearted leader in the Catholic Church’s long and winding history. So it might seem kind of damning to bring in a closed-minded pope just when things have gotten good. Plus, there the whole “Englishman playing an American in Italy” thing, hampered even more by the fact that the miniseries will be presented as an English-language project. We can only hope that some Italian makes it to the final cut.
HBO will be co-producing The Young Pope with the U.K.’s Sky and France’s Canal Plus, along with Wildside and Haut et Court TV. It will be co-written by This Must Be The Place writer/director Paolo Sorrentino, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas co-writer Tony Grisoni, This Must be the Place co-writer Umberto Contarello, and Deadly Code’s screenwriter Stefano Rulli. Sorrentino will be directing all eight episodes, however.
Law had a pretty solid 2014, appearing in Wes Anderson’s Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel and cursing up a brutal storm in Richard Shepard’s crime comedy Dom Hemingway, and he kicked off 2015 with Kevin Macdonald’s submarine thriller Black Sea. 2015 will see him taking on a supporting role alongside Melissa McCarthy in Paul Feig’s Spy, and he’ll play the classic American novelist Thomas Wolfe in Michael Grandage’s literary-minded biopic Genius. He’s currently filming Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur for Guy Ritchie, in which he’s playing Vortigern. No one can say that Jude Law is playing to stereotype.
The Young Pope, which will take place in both the U.S. and Italy, is scheduled to begin its Italian production at Cinecitta Studios, presumably later this year. Can we expect to see Law’s name play heavily into awards season next year, or whenever HBO decides to debut it? Depends on how over-the-top things get, I guess.