As the cardinals deliberated in Rome last week, halfway around the world in Hollywood another Pope was being picked. A new television drama about the Vatican has selected as its pontiff an actor best known for playing Adolf Hitler.
The Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, 71, will take the role of the fictional Pope Sixtus VI in a pilot episode of The Vatican, a thriller series from the cable network Showtime, which also produces Homeland and Dexter. Ganz is most famous for his portrayal of Hitler in the 2004 film Downfall, about the Nazi leader’s final days in his Berlin bunker.
Set in the present day, The Vatican is expected to depict the politics and power struggles of the modern Catholic Church. Not unlike Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sixtus VI is of German descent and, according to the producers, “is an unassuming and introspective caretaker of the Church, who struggles with his own legacy, and how history will judge his papacy.”
The pilot episode is directed by the British film-maker Sir Ridley Scott.