Pope Francis May Make Acting Debut in Beyond the Sun, But Vatican Disputes Studio's Claim

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Earlier today it was reported that Pope Francis would be playing himself in the upcoming religious movie Beyond the Sun, the first time a Pope has ever appeared as an actor in a feature film. The film is described as a family adventure based on the Gospels, and came about as part of Pope Francis’ desire to communicate Jesus’ message to children. All profits from the film will be donated to Argentinean charities that help at-risk children and young adults, El Alemendro and Los Hogares de Cristo.

However, the Vatican is now disputing the Pontifex’s appearance, saying the Pope is not an actor. Monsignor Dario Vigano, head of the Vatican’s communications operation, made a statement to on Vatican radio Tuesday afternoon saying the Pope had no official involvement, but acknowledge that he couldn’t guarantee the filmmakers didn’t have access to some footage from the Pope. It’s possible that the Pontifex may have recorded something specifically for use in the film without official approval. But regardless, this seems to imply that his role in the film would be quite small.

Ambi Pictures’ co-founders, Andrea Lervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi, will finance and produce the film. The screenplay was written by Graciela Rodriguez. Pope Francis’ advisor will be Monsignor Eduardo Garcia.

Filming is slated to begin early this year in Italy. Ambi will oversee worldwide distribution through its Los Angeles-based international sales division. The company is also working on a remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento and James Franco’s In Dubious Battle starring Franco, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nat Wolff, Robert Duvall, Bryan Cranston and Ed Harris.