How Creating 'The Young Pope' Was Complicated by the Catholic Church

Antonello & Montesi/HBO
Jude Law as Pius XIII in 'The Young Pope.'

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino says it was no easy feat creating a show about an American pontiff.

While Paolo Sorrentino was making HBO's The Young Pope, he considered its 10 episodes a "long film." Through a translator, the Italian director spoke with THR about bringing his tale of the first American pope to life.

What was the biggest challenge in putting this project together?

Because materials connected to the theme of the Catholic Church are so vast, complicated and full of derivations, the biggest challenge was to find a synthesis in such an ocean.

Is it more or less challenging to create a fictional story about this very real institution?

It's slightly more complicated because the coefficient of imagination has to be kept in check in virtue of an adherence to a real institution, which is alive and ongoing.

What were some of the more difficult aspects of the production?

Set designs, costumes, location scouting, keeping up the directing and staging over situations and characters that are often static, moved exclusively by intellectual and spiritual production. These are the most complicated aspects of the job.

Was the reaction to the series what you'd expected?

Frankly, I think it's always better to face a job without asking questions about how it may be received, because unpredictability is a constant in the reception of a work. In any case, I'm very happy about the reception we received. Many have noticed both our effort and our attempt at being original within the world of a TV series. 

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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