Lenny Belardo is not your typical pontiff. Sworn in by the Vatican elite and their many cardinals to bring a new lease of life to the Catholic church, Jude Law’s unruly ruler soon faces a baptism of fire, struggling to come to terms with his holy responsibilities in the face of growing skepticism from both fellow clergymen and the thousands worshipping him in St. Peter’s Square.
That is, in essence, the crux of HBO’s new freshman drama The Young Pope. Hatched by Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino, the network’s 10-part religious drama has been aligned for a premiere in early 2017, but that hasn’t prevented HBO from drumming up excitement ahead of time with the unveiling of a new teaser trailer.
Introducing viewers to Diane Keaton’s Sister Mary, a power player who helps guide Law’s American-born pope to the throne, it’s an intriguing, deeply provocative snippet, showcasing Lenny Belardo (AKA Pius XIII) smoking, scheming and generally raising the middle finger to all who worship him. “They chose a pope they didn’t know,” Belardo whispers, “and today, they’ll begin to realize who I am.”
Chilling words indeed, particularly for someone at the head of the Catholic church. Could HBO be about to introduce an anti-hero on the level of Frank Underwood? Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, Cécile de France, Javier Cámara, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli and James Cromwell round out the casting docket.
“I am a contradiction like Mary, the virginal mother; like man, good and evil; I’m God.” Look for the white smoke to come billowing from the chimneys of HBO when The Young Pope makes its bow in early 2017.