After Dr Watson, Jude Law dons the robe in The Young Pope

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 08, 2015 15:25 IST

British actor Jude Law will essay the title role in the television series, The Young Pope, and will have actor Diane Keaton playing opposite him. The Young Pope -- eight episodes in all -- will be helmed by the Italian auteur, Paolo Sorrentino.

The shoot for The Young Pope -- produced by HBO and Sky -- has just begun in Rome, and it narrates the controversial story of the beginning of PIUS XIII's Pontificate, born Lenny Belardo. A complex and conflicted character, so conservative in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet full of compassion towards the weak and poor, the Pope 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 defending that same God and the world representing Him.

Describing the series, 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 neighbour. That is what The Young Pope is about."

Actors Jude Law (R) and Sebastian Roche on the set of The Young Pope. (Reuters photo/Yara Nardi)

Sorrentino's The Great Beauty was part of the 2013 Cannes Competition and went on to win that year's Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film. The Great Beauty is a moving account of a ageing Italian socialite, who on turning 65 walks through the streets of Rome reminiscing about his first love and the characters of the famous novel he wrote when he was in his twenties. In a way, The Great Beauty reminded one of the Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita that also speaks about the debauch Italian aristocacy seen through the eyes of a journalist.

Sorrentino's second English-language movie, Youth, which was at Cannes Competition this May, is an equally poignant story of a retired orchestra conductor (Michael Caine) who while on a holiday with his best friend (Harvey Keitel) and daughter, receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform at Prince Philip's birthday. But the conductor had stopped going on stage ever since his wife died.

Law is a hugely talented actor, and one of the most memorable films of his was My Blueberry Nights by Wong Kar-wai, an utterly delightful romantic tale about how two people meet over Blueberry cake on rain-soaked nights in the little eatery he runs. Norah Jones, Pandit Ravi Shankar's daughter, acts as Law's lover.

Law is probably better known as John Watson in the recent Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr portraying that brilliant sleuth which Arthur Conan Doyle created in gaslit 19th Century London's 221 Baker Street.

Now as the Pope, Law, 42 and father of five, is said to have looked unrecognisable in the white robe, and although he has been in the shoes of myriad characters, his latest outing in the gardens of Villa Midici in Rome may be his most challenging.

Keaton is best known for the Woody Allen-starrer, Play it Again, Sam and Allen-helmed Annie Hall.

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