HBO News Blog

In Production: HBO’s THE YOUNG POPE

By Jef Dinsmore on Sep 17, 2015 to The Young Pope

When we first reported on THE YOUNG POPE we were not aware of how fast this production was going to come around. Well, it seems that the parties involved what to get this story told. People offers some casting news and photos.  

Academy Award winner Diane Keaton joins two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law in THE YOUNG POPE, the eight-episode drama series from Paolo Sorrentino, director of the Academy Award-winning film The Great Beauty, as well as the upcoming Youth. Keaton stars as Sister Mary, a nun from the U.S. now living in Vatican City. Law is set for the lead role as PIUS XIII, formerly known as Lenny Belardo. James Cromwell is in as Cardinal Michael Spencer, Lenny’s mentor. Silvio Orlando (The Caiman) is set as Secretary of State Cardinal Voiello; Scott Shepherd (And So It Goes) will play Cardinal Dussolier; and Belgian actress Cécile de France (The Kid With A Bike) will play Sofia, who is in in charge of marketing in Vatican City. Talk To Her‘s Javier Cámara is set to play Cardinal Gutierrez, Vatican City Master of Ceremonies; Swimming Pool‘s Ludivine Sagnier is Esther, the wife of a Swiss guard; and Toni Bertorelli (Passion Of The Christ) has been cast as Cardinal Caltanissetta.

THE YOUNG POPE tells the controversial story of the beginning of PIUS XIII’s Pontificate. Born Lenny Belardo, he is a complex and conflicted character, so conservative in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet full of compassion towards the weak and poor. He is a man of great power who is stubbornly resistant to the Vatican courtiers, unconcerned with the implications to his authority. During the series, Belardo will face losing those closest to him and the constant fear of being abandoned, even by his God. He is, however, not afraid of undertaking the millennial mission of TheYoungPope02defending that same God and the world representing Him.

Describing the series, Paolo Sorrentino said, “The clear signs of God’s existence. The clear signs of God’s absence. How faith can be searched for and lost. The greatness of holiness, so great as to be unbearable when you are fighting temptations and when all you can do is to yield to them. The inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as Pontiff. Finally, how to handle and manipulate power in a state whose dogma and moral imperative is the renunciation of power and selfless love towards one’s neighbor. That is what THE YOUNG POPE is about.”

Wow, that is pretty heady stuff. Sadly, we are a bit repetitive on the information, but at least we can confirm by the shots that it is now in production. Production on the series, which is a joint production of Sky, HBO and Canal +, will be one closely watched by us.  


  • Ellie Wilkin

    This sounds fantastic, such an interesting premise. I’m not entirely convinced by Jude Law as the Pope, but hey, stranger things have happened! Interested to hear how this one develops, if it’s got a Brit in it we might stand a chance of getting it over here as well!

    • Jef Dinsmore

      There is no reason that a work such as this one can’t be a crowd-pleaser. If the “limited series” route is the only way to get big name talent interested and get audiences with low attention spans engaged in the network than so be it.

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