Showtime's 'The Vatican' Casts Its Pope: 'Downfall's' Hitler

Bruno Ganz as Hitler Headshot Split - H 2013
YouTube; Courtesy of Showtime

Bruno Ganz as Hitler Headshot Split - H 2013

Showtime's The Vatican pilot has found its pope in an actor who once played Hitler and became an Internet sensation.

Just days after the Vatican named Jorge Mario Bergoglio its new pope, Downfall actor Bruno Ganz has been cast as Pope Sixtus VI in the cable network's drama pilot, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

STORY: Showtime Orders 'Vatican' Drama Pilot, Ridley Scott to Direct

The Vatican, a contemporary thriller about spirituality, power and politics, is set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic Church. The potential series would explore the relationships and rivalries in addition to the mysteries and miracles behind the institution. Friday Night Lights alum Kyle Chandler stars as Cardinal Thomas Duffy, a charismatic archbishop of New York.

Ganz's Pope Sixtus VI is of German ancestry and described as unassuming and an introspective caretaker of the Church who struggles with his own legacy and how history will judge his papacy.

Paul Attanasio (House) penned the one-hour script, with Ridley Scott (Prometheus, The Good Wife) on board to direct his first television pilot. Production on the Sony Pictures Television entry is expected to begin soon. Attanasio, Scott and David Zucker (The Good Wife) will executive produce. 

STORY: Kyle Chandler to Star in Showtime's 'The Vatican' Pilot

Ganz joins a cast that also includes Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) as Duffy's sister, Kayla; Sebastian Koch (A Good Day to Die Hard) as Cardinal Marco Malerba, the Vatican's secretary of state; Matthew Goode (A Single Man) as papal secretary Bernd Koch; and Scottish actor Ewen Bremner as Monsignor Alberico Iemma, who is charged with the weighty and complex job of investigating and pronouncing miracles for the Church.

Ganz starred as Adolf Hitler in Downfall, earning awards for his portrayal at the European Film Awards, German Film Awards and London Critics Circle Film Awards, among countless others. His feature credits also include The Reader, Unknown and The Manchurian Candidate.

For his part, Ganz's performance as Hitler spawned an Internet craze with countless YouTube uploads of a key scene re-edited with different subtitles to poke fun at a range of news events of all kinds (see below).

Ganz is repped by Baumbauer Actors.

Email:; Twitter: @Snoodit