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EXTRA! Two Popes

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
December 4, 2019 12:00 am

EXTRA! Two Popes

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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December 4, 2019 12:00 am

A new film -- starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce -- images what a conversation would have been like between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  Listen to their extended interview with Tracy Smith.

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Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at I'm Lee Cowan, in this week for Jane Pauley, and this is our Sunday Morning Extra, a podcast featuring a memorable story from our latest show. It's a conversation that offers insight beyond the broadcast. On this episode, Tracy Smith is in conversation with two actors who star in the new film The Two Popes, Jonathan Pryce and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Now I can see you, a necessity for a peculiar.

It could never be me. All right, we are at an impasse. You cannot retire from the church unless I agree to your going, and I cannot resign until you agree to stay.

You may remember Pryce from such films as Brazil and Glengarry Glen Ross. Oh Christ. Hey, don't follow me. Just don't follow me, okay? And who could forget Hopkins' turn as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs? A census taker once tried to test me.

I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. All right, here we go. Everybody settled? Yep.

Yeah. Tracy Smith asks Jonathan Pryce, what drew the veteran actor to take on the role of Pope Francis? I know you had a beautiful script and an amazing director, but what was it about this story and these men that appealed to you? At first I was a bit reluctant. I didn't think I wanted to be a pope.

I thought I was on a hiding to nothing. But then I read the script, which I really liked. And it also came with Fernando Morales attached to direct it.

And that was the kind of clincher for me. He's been a favorite director of mine for years from City of God onwards. But I also have great admiration for Pope Francis from the day he was created pope. What he was talking about, what he could do for a society in general. And to me, he's a much more political figure.

And I responded to the things he was saying. You didn't know that Tony was going to play the other pope? No, no. I probably wouldn't have taken it if I'd known that he was going to be the other pope. But no, that was the icing on the cake was when Tony agreed. I mean, Tony, I knew you wanted to do it, but it was a question of fitting it in, wasn't it?

Yeah. Well, it was a little complicated, sort of. I was going to play, talking to some producer, but playing the father film in London. And my agent joined us for lunch. And he said, you've been offered the pope. I said, really?

Ratzinger? I said, oh, yes, German pope resigned. I knew that much. And I said, well, okay. And then I read the script. And I thought, this is really good.

And it's very light. It wasn't heavy, ponderous. And so I had to delay, because I'd been working very hard the previous two years. So I couldn't remember any more lines. So I had to postpone.

I said, I don't think it'll be, I can do it. And my agent... You did go off and play King Leo. Yeah, that was before that, though. That didn't help. But anyway, so they waited to come back from Argentina, gave them time.

So I joined them in Rome. And I'd worked with Fernando before on a film called 360. And he's terrific. And the script, once you get the script, and a superb director like Fernando, he's very quiet, very laid back.

But he produces these remarkable images. And I thought, well, it was easy to play. And I didn't do any analysis. I mean, I'd watched him on YouTube. But I got an idea, because I just take the information from the script if it's well written. For me, I don't need to know too much more about the ins and outs of the actual man. I leave my judgments, any historical judgments or opinions I have out of it. So I don't read that much about whatever goes on. Was part of the appeal playing against this other pope, playing against Jonathan?

Yes. Well, we'd never really worked before. Just briefly, I directed him in a play, Adam McWhorter. And he played number two voice. I played number one. Now he's number two, number one on the call sheet and the trailer. But I let him have his glory. This has become a running joke between the two of you. Who's number one, who's number two?

Yeah, he's upset about it. But I quite like telling people that I was number one on the call sheet. He was number two. I put the sir on it. Yeah, you put sir on his emails now. You're sir number two. You have to have a laugh in this business.

Otherwise you go under and die. So we just have a long term laughing. Well, you know what?

That brings up something. The film offers great insight into these men and into the picking of the pope, how the cardinals go about picking the pope. But it also is really funny. Have people been surprised by the humor in this film? Well, I was surprised by the audience reaction. And when I was gratified by it, when you see it with a large audience, which I've been seeing in various film festivals, there's an image at the beginning of the film, which is quite an anonymous image. It's a man talking on a phone and has a great punch line. And the audience, every time I've seen it, they have huge laughter in the audience. And you can feel the audience sitting back, relaxing and thinking, oh, this is a film I can watch. It's not going to be what I expected it to be, which is two old men talking for two hours. It's a much more complicated film and it deals with humor.

It's very moving. But I, you know, we didn't. The great thing about the humor is it comes out of the relationship and the situation. And I don't think I ever thought that we were trying to be funny ever.

And I think that's why it works so well on that level. And I haven't seen it in the audience. I'm going to see it tonight. I use these words important, but nobody laughs today. And you've got to have a laugh.

You've got to laugh. I had an old friend once always said to me, you've got to have a laugh, Dan. And he was dying. I was with him when he was dying. And he said, go have a laugh.

And then he died. That was his last words. But you do. I mean, everyone's so serious today. Everyone's so grim. Well, there's a lot to be grim about. Yes, I know.

But we're all going to die. And let's talk. Let's have some fun. Let's just go out there and say, what's our problem? What's your problem?

How can I change? Is there anything we can talk about? Well, that's what this film says, isn't it? It's about how we can discuss with our enemies about our differences and find a commonality in order that we can move on and make things better generally.

You're right. There are grim things. There's a lot going on. But the world's always been a messy place. Nobody's ever got it right. No one throughout the whole of human history.

It's been a mess. But if we don't laugh, if we are absolutely certain that we are right, 1933, there was a man in Germany called the absolute certainty. Puritanism. Stalin in Russia.

Puritanism. Certainty. Biggest killer in the world is that certainty that I know better than anyone. And it happens today in political correctness.

Outrated, I know best and you don't know. And if you don't agree with me, I'll kill you. Now that's really terrifying. And if we don't relax and let go, it's going to be a catastrophe. So here are these two men with very opposite different views of the church and the world who somehow managed to find a way to come together to be friends even. Also, it seems that this is about people's capacity to change. To do both of these men, you could argue, did something horribly wrong and still managed to change. Was that important to you and did that resonate with you, that part of it?

Well, I can say from one point of view that with let's say Ratzinger was a conservative, ultra-conservative, die-hard Catholic theologian, brilliant scholar, that term I forgot what I was going to say now. Change. About change. That the one person, he probably never forgot this, the man 2,000 years ago said, class D the first stone who has not sinned and they all dropped their stones before they stoned the woman caught in adultery. That is the most moving part of human history. Dropped here the first stone who has not sinned and they all walked away. He goes to the woman who said, sin no more. That to me is the most moving thing to say that, that man walking around in the desert all those years ago.

I think, God, what compassion, what beauty, the beauty of life and the terrible beauty of life casted the first stone who has not sinned. And you'd like to say, yeah, what about us? You were putting people on trial and executing them before they've even been given process of justice. But we're doing it already. Contem, condemn, condemn. And it's sad. And in my little tiny microcosmic way, if I could just say, have a laugh.

We've got to have a laugh. Were you able to learn things from each other since this is the first time you've worked so closely together? Did you watch each other and learn things from each other? It was all to do with the characters.

I mean, it wasn't, I didn't go in there thinking, you know, you're not judging yourself while you're doing it. And I'm not judging Tony while he's speaking. We're in the moment and being the characters.

And happily, there were things within us that resonated as people. And as Francis grows to like or to begin to understand Rat Singer and then Rat Singer understands Francis, it was like me getting to know Tony. Well, that's what's interesting because for my part, watching Jonathan's performance, that there was no animosity from him to me.

He sings Abba to me. He mentioned, he's a decent man who wants to resign. We have an argument, yes. And I warn him, I say, you want to resign from the church? Be careful.

But I noticed that, you know, in the film, it doesn't, as I said, you don't think about it. But because of his friendship and his attempts to get to me, even to resign, he never threatens me with vindictive dogma. He says things I don't agree with. He says there should be no wars.

Well, that's ridiculous. But I think, well, maybe he's got a point. And it was his compassion, Francis' compassion and understanding that I'm an old man and an old conservative. Maybe he can break me down a bit.

And he does. But you don't think about those things. No, because you're in the moment. But you did say to me, Jonathan, that you were nervous the first time you were on set with Tony. Don't let him know that I was nervous of him. No, don't.

Don't say I said anything nice about him. Otherwise, I'll never live it down. I'm terrible.

You make my life hell. I'm happy being number one. Let's just keep it that way. All right.

All right. No, I was. I mean, there was a, you know, you're nervous about any actor you're working with.

But I was especially, you know, I've been a fan of Tony's for a long time. And so I, yeah, it was just, there was a kind of excitement along with the nervousness and it proved to work out quite well. I don't know how much you get into this as you're doing it. But do you prepare for roles differently? Well, from what I understand, yes.

Yeah. Can you talk about that? I mean, Fernando is the kind of adjudicator about how we work differently. He can tell you more. But I speak for Tony.

Tony is much more rigorous and he's like an orchestrator of his performance. He likes to know the lines. Just knowing the lines. And, you know, once you know them so solidly, and that's my thing because I was such an idiot at school.

No, I was a little bit older at school. And I've had the fear all my life, which fear is a very good thing to have. It drives you. So it's compensated me by making sure I know everything absolutely so no one can slap me across the head and call me a fool. So I have to know it all, not to show off, but I love the feeling of knowing all the dialogue, pushing it down into my feet and just knowing it. And then once you've got it, you can improvise. You can sing and dance. You can stand in your head and do things. And you're free to improvise whatever you need to do.

But for me, that is, I know people wear earphones. I don't know how they do that. Very clever, but I couldn't do that.

You need to memorize it. I have to know only so for my own peace of mind that when I go on the set in the morning, I'm, let's say, have a coffee, have a joke, see this guy and have some fun and improvise, you know, loosen it up, not be rigid about it. Yeah. But I'm a bit loose. Oh, he's very loose.

Very loose. It's more like jazz though, aren't you? That's me. Yeah. Jazz. Is that a fair way to put it here? He's a classical musician and I'm jazz.

It's Fernando who's dubbed us. But I think I'm a bit more open to what's going to happen on the day. And I don't know where that comes from, but when I'm rehearsing a play, a lot of directors want you to learn your script before you go in. And I can't do that. I can't learn it off the page. I have to learn it. I listen a lot to what the other characters say about my character and that's how I know about my character. It can be frustrating for other actors sometimes.

Are you ever going to learn it? But I'll be the last person in the rehearsal room is carrying the script. And once I know what I'm saying, why I'm saying it, then it goes in. With a film script, I can generally, you know the whole character and you know what his motivations and his intentions are.

And the words sometimes are the last things that I think about. And it's, I don't know, you can over rehearse at times on film. But we didn't rehearse at all. It was quite instinctive between the characters. Really?

There wasn't a lot of rehearsing. No, no. I think that's interesting. I wish I could do that. I can't. I find this script a damn nuisance to have a holding thing. Hold on a minute.

How do I do that and do that? I'm encumbered with a fear that it's going to get in my way. So I throw it away as soon as I can. See, I have the opposite fear. But if I'm expected to know it and if I think I should know it and I don't know it, that sense of failure, I can't bear to fail. So if I don't know it, I can't fail.

Reverse psychology. Are we going to work together again? No doubt it. We were talking of taking the two popes on the road.

I think that'd be great. Or even the cruise ships. The traveling two popes.

Painting lessons on the side. Good. Did you notice the striking resemblance between Pope Francis and Jonathan Price? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I did. The difference. Yeah.

That they're doppelgangers. Is that fair to say? You don't like that? No, of course I have to accept it. Yeah. You did say years ago, I think 2015, that someone asked you who should play you in the movies.

And you said, Pope Francis, but he needs to lose a few pounds. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

I did say that. Strange, isn't it? It's funny how it came around.

Comes back to haunt you. Yeah. And did you ever think you looked like Benedict? I did.

Really? When I went into the wardroom and they put the robes on and the makeup person said to me, would you put on this wig? You know, this hair. And I said, oh, no. And so I said, okay, let's have a go at it.

And she put it on. I thought, oh, not bad. Yeah, I look quite like him. But playing him wasn't difficult because I don't have to act like an old man anymore because I'm an old man. Yeah.

So it's easy. No acting required. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh, my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring and informative stories that exist out in the world because, well, I need it.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-28 05:37:05 / 2023-01-28 05:44:49 / 8

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