Two Popes actor hails Francis after endorsement of same-sex civil unions

Jonathan Pryce heaped praise on Pope Francis after winning best actor at the Welsh Bafta awards for portraying the pontiff

The Crown
The Crown

The Two Popes actor Jonathan Pryce has praised Pope Francis for his endorsement of same-sex civil unions, describing the pontiff as a “great politician”.

Pryce’s portrayal of Francis in the 2019 film saw him win best actor at the Bafta Cymru awards on Sunday, beating fellow Welshman Sir Anthony Hopkins who starred opposite him as the aging Pope Benedict XVI.

Speaking after his win, Flintshire-born Pryce said Francis had “cleverly” taken his time before giving the papal thumbs-up to civil unions for gay people, and that the pontiff would have faced greater opposition from within the Vatican had he decide to “throw all the furniture out” with reform sooner.

Hitchcock Premiere – London
Sir Anthony Hopkins also starred (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Pryce told the PA news agency: “There are many wonderful things about Pope Francis – wonderful things that made want to portray him.

“The film shows the dark side of him as well as the lighter side.  But I think what is one of the things that this proves is what a great politician he is.

“He was in there to be a reformer, and he’s constantly had a lot of opposition from within the Vatican.

“He’s cleverly took his time. I think if he went in, tried to throw all the furniture out and say ‘I’m going to completely change things’ at the beginning, I think he would have met a lot more opposition than he has done now.”

Pryce added: “I think it’s a great thing he’s done and, you know, he’s bided his time. That’s all I’m sure he always wanted to do and knew what he needed to do.”

Pryce, who will portray the Duke of Edinburgh in the final two seasons of Netflix’s The Crown, joked that he would be phoning Two Popes co-star Sir Anthony following the ceremony to tell him he had lost.

He said: “I’m very pleased. I’m going to be phoning Tony just to tell him he’d lost. No, I’ll be telling him I’d won.

“We get on really well. We had a wonderful time working together and we’ve kept in touch. I’m very fond of him and I respect him enormously.”

He added: “Of course, there’s a difference between us because we’ve constantly riffed on the fact that he’s from south Wales which is far inferior to north Wales.

“We talked about growing up in Wales, and I knew his story and I think he might know mine. It was always fascinating because he was an only child, I wasn’t an only child, and he had a very different kind of life, but our backgrounds weren’t too dissimilar.”

And the Game Of Thrones star, who played The High Sparrow in the fantasy series, said being given the best actor award by his fellow Welsh men and women “meant a lot”.

“It does mean a lot when your country people are liking what you’re doing, respecting you. It does mean a lot,” he said.

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