Who Will Play Pope Francis on the Big Screen?

Disclaimer:  Please forgive this foray into somewhat lighter matters.  For those hoping for the sort of heavy theological and sociopolitical analysis of the kind I usually produce, you’ll just have to wait,  either forever or for Pat Thornton’s next article, whichever comes first.

Yes, they are making a movie.  Sounds like a good group of people doing it too – they even want Pope Francis’ approval of the script before they start production.   The movie will be called Friend of the Poor: The Pope Francis Story.  According to producer Christian Peschken, he hopes to debut the movie at a special screening in the Vatican on December 17, 2014.  Habemus popcorn?

Meanwhile, because I’m shallow, I started to speculate on who would be the best actor to play Pope Francis.  I’m not a filmmaker, so my idea for who should portray a person is basically just whoever looks most like him (see shallow, above).  That got me wondering who could play some of the other pontiffs on the silver screen (I know, it’s been done  – I thought Cary Elwes was great as the young Karol Wojtyla).

Anyway, I got as far back as Pius XII and here’s what I came up with:


Pope Francis…                                                            Jonathan Pryce

Pope FrancisJonathan Pryce











Pope Benedict XVI…                                                 Anthony Hopkins

Pope Benedict XVIAnthony Hopkins mag Literatur und Malerei lieber als Filme drehen


Pope John Paul II…                                              Ed Harris

John Paul IIEd Harris











Pope John Paul I…                                                Dustin Hoffman

john paul iLeute-News: Dustin Hoffman


Pope Paul VI…                                                     Jean Reno

Paul 6jean reno










Pope John XXIII…                                               Joe Pesci

john XXIIIpesci









Pope Pius XII…                                                     Hugo Weaving











Okay, like I said, this isn’t my area of expertise.

So please,  share.  Who would you like to see play your favorite pope on screen?



Categories:Culture Humor Pope Francis


    I think the casting is brilliant. Dustin Hoffman as Papa Luciani! And I never realized Ed Harris looked good as Papa Wojtyla. The only problem I see is any need for Papa Roncalli, John XXIII. But he has been played by Ed Asner, Raymond Burr and Bob Hoskins….your instincts do you credit!

  • Chris

    Pesci as John 23?!

  • monica pope

    Joe Pesci is the best of all the above picks.
    Did you know, though, that John Goodman played Pope Sergius in the 2009 movie, Pope Joan?

    From what I can tell here, it looks like he did a magnificent job– very Roman, very Catholic, very Pontif-ish:

    • monica pope

      … and I hear it’s a TRUE story!



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