Fans of images where a smirking Jude Law stands in front of a fairly stern-looking John Malkovich will find themselves with plenty to be happy about, as HBO releases a first-look image from The New Pope. A follow-up to the acclaimed 2016 series, a co-production between HBO, Sky, and Canal +, the series is being touted as something of an anthology, one that will continue to follow the exploits of the first American Pope, Lenny Belardo (Law), but this time, as the title suggests, it will also focus on his successor, presumably played by Malkovich.
The eight-episode series began production in Rome in November of 2018, and it seems that while the first image confirms what the title is referring to, and that Malkovich will play a significant role in the series, most other plot details are being kept under wraps. That’s not too surprising since the reception to The Young Pope was two-fold, beginning with a preemptive online and social media response that was aimed at poking fun at the series’ title and premise. The show’s reception changed after it premiered and many discovered that writer-director Paolo Sorrentino had delivered something altogether unexpected.
Now, with production on the series well underway, it’s time for HBO, Sky, and Canal + to begin the process of getting audiences ready for another turn with Lenny and all the newcomers joining him in the Vatican. Though there’s not much to go on, the first image does at least shed some light on Malkovich’s role, though it’s unclear whether the character is as stern as he looks, or if it’s just a case of Malkovich being Malkovich.
From the look of it, 2019 is going to be the year of John Malkovich on television, as the actor has a number of projects set to hit various platforms. In addition to The New Pope, Malkovich can also be seen as Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders in February, while in March, it’s expected that he’ll reprise his role as shady Russian billionaire Grigor Andolov in season 4 of Showtime’s Billions. And if you can’t get enough Malkovich (and who can, really?), you can also check him out in Netflix’s hit Bird Box, as well as the upcoming Ted Bundy film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
As for The New Pope, there are certainly some questions around the anthology-ness of it all. HBO has taken to describing it as a limited series, not the second season, or a sequel series to The Young Pope. That might all be semantics, but it might also hint at what Sorrentino’s overall goal is with the new series. What exactly is in store for viewers when The New Pope premieres later this year remains to be seen, but after the success of The Young Pope, expectations are likely very high.
The New Pope is expected later in 2019 on HBO.