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May 17, 2015

Jude Law to star as pontiff in 'The Young Pope'

Jude Law will portray the head of the Catholic Church in an upcoming series entitled "The Young Pope."

Variety reports that Law will star as Lenny Belardo, the first American pope who is chosen by the Vatican because of his conservative leanings.

Law's character is described as complex, conflicted and compassionate. Production on the series will begin later this summer into 2016. The show will feature eight episodes, and will be shot mostly in Italy, with some locations in the U.S., Africa and Puerto Rico.

The series is being written and directed by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, who won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2014 for "The Great Beauty." Sorrentino's film "Youth" will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, May 20.

Sorrintino described what Belardo's journey would be in the show in a statement to the press. From Deadline:
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.

The description of Law's character contradicts the image of the church's current head, Pope Francis, who was elected to his position in 2013. While Belardo is set to be a very conservative pontiff, Francis has been perceived as a progressive pope by many.

The series is being coproduced by Italian companies with HBO. No release date or distribution information has been announced so far.