Jonathan Pryce reluctant to play look-alike Pope Francis

Jonathan Pryce agreed to the role when he learned City of God director Fernando Meirelles was helming the project and Hopkins had signed on as his co-star.

Jonathan Pryce was approached to portray Pope Francis on the day the Pontiff became leader of the Catholic Church but he was reluctant to consider the part.

The Pirates of Caribbean actor stars alongside fellow Welshman Anthony Hopkins in the new film The Two Popes, which imagines what might have been said in private during three known encounters between Cardinal Bergoglio - the soon-to-be Pope Francis - and Pope Benedict before the latter abdicated from the Papacy.

Pryce was approached about playing Pope Francis, who he bears a resemblance to, on the day he became the new Pope but his initial reaction was a no.

"The day he was created Pope, there was a call from Argentina and they came from Argentina to meet me," he told Deadline. "The day he was announced (as Pope), my photograph was next to his, and even one of my sons called me and said, 'Dad, are you the Pope?' So, the seeds were laid then."

He agreed to the role when he learned City of God director Fernando Meirelles was helming the project and Hopkins had signed on as his co-star.

"My agent called me and said, 'You've been offered the role of Pope Francis,' and I said, 'God, I don't want to do that,'" the 72-year-old recalled. "I was quite reluctant to even think about it. And then, I could see what a good script it was, and a great story; even if this hadn't been a living person, if it was a work of fiction, it would still be a great story.

"But when I was told Fernando Meirelles was directing it, I felt this was not going to be a biopic, it was going to have a great energy and a life to it that he brought to his other films... so, that whole package made me feel very confident that it was something I wanted to do."

The Two Popes will be released on Netflix on 20 December after a short theatrical run.

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