The domesticated Pope's plumage tends to lighten as they age.

THE TWO POPES

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - 2005

ARCHBISHOP JONATHAN PRYCE is giving a sermon to the masses in the GRAFFITIEST PART of BUENOS AIRES.

JONATHAN PRYCE

...and furthermore, friends, let us all please remember, though the true religion in this part of the world may be futbol…

CROWD

(cheers madly)

JONATHAN PRYCE

…we must also show fealty to the God above us who decides which teams he likes, every blessed World Cup.

CROWD

(cheers a little bit)

BOY IN CROWD

Senor Pryce! Senor Pryce!

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yes, young believer?

BOY IN CROWD

I just wanted to say I love God now! And your accent, seriously, it’s solid.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yeah? I’m acting in a foreign language for half this movie, I was nervous how it’d sound…

The CROWD hold up SCORE CARDS, all displaying 7’s and 8’s. JONATHAN leaves the podium and walks among his people.

WOMAN

That was a wonderful sermon, Senor Pryce. I loved the parts about futbol. But I must inform you, Pope John Paul II has passed on.

JONATHAN PRYCE

(crosses self)

This is terrible news. I must now go participate in the various arcane rituals whereby we can select the new avatar of God on earth.

WOMAN

What does that involve? Blood magic? Fasting? Wandering into the desert on peyote?

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yes to all. But mainly...

(shudders)

Shmoozing...

INT. VATICAN CONCLAVE

JONATHAN steps into the ANCIENT and BEAUTIFUL HALLS of the VATICAN, where even the cheapest RUG costs enough to FEED his entire SLUM for a MONTH. The other CARDINALS flock towards him, not unlike some type of BIRD.

CARDINAL

Greetings, Jonathan. We haven’t seen you here for some time.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I was trying to get that Don Quixote thing made. That’s twenty years I’ll never get back, oi vey...

CARDINAL

Well, I should inform you, the other clergy are completely in love with you and your progressive reforms. They like your charisma, selflessness, and they love that weird trick you do where you make it look like you turned water into wine. It’s adorable.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yup, definitely a trick...

(finger guns)

CARDINAL

You’re a frontrunner for Pope-ification.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Me? But I am nothing but a humble slum preacher. You should pick somebody more suited to the task, like that serial killer-looking fellow over there.

ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY HOPKINS glares at him from across the room.

CARDINAL

Oh, don’t mind ol’ Ratzinger. He’s a nice guy, he’s just got Resting Palpatine Face. Keep an eye on him, though. He’s your competition.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I’ve heard of him and his policies. Condemnations of homosexuals, hiding child abusing priests, disemboweling those who sneeze during sermons. The church could not survive a pope such as he.

ARCHBISHOP

Then schmooze, Jon. You are hella simpatico, as I believe your people say. Claim the Popemobile as your own and golfcart us out of this dark age for the Catholic faith.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I will accept the conclave’s decision. But I will not self-promote. This isn’t an Oscar campaign.

JONATHAN speaks to the BISHOPS, who quickly fall in love with his CHARM, GRACE, and ability to CURE ALL PHYSICAL ILLS with only a TOUCH. ANTHONY glowers in the corner.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Grr, that Jonathan, with his bleeding heart politics. You know who’s heart never bled? Fuckin’ Jesus, that’s who.

ASSISTANT

He’s got supporters, boss. Don’t underestimate him.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

What’s he got that I ain’t got?

ANTHONY snatches a DOVE out of the air and DEVOURS its SOUL. Several BISHOPS decide to vote for him out of FEAR.

INT. GRAND HALL OF POPE-SELECTION

Sealed within the great confines of the VATICAN, the COLLEGE OF CARDINALS are seated, each with a PAPER BALLOT before him. One by one, the LEADING FIGURES of the 1.3 BILLION-STRONG CATHOLIC FAITH begin the process of selecting the VICAR OF CHRIST, PATRIARCH OF THE WEST, BREAKER OF CHAINS and MOTHER OF DRAGONS.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(glowers at JONATHAN)

JONATHAN PRYCE

(tickles the wings on a butterfly)

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(scratches his name upon the parchment in his own blood)

JONATHAN PRYCE

(delicately scrawls some other guy’s name in fanciful crayon)

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(slams his ballot into the collection box, a belch of black smoke issuing forth)

JONATHAN PRYCE

(hands his ballot to a passing angel, complete with generous tip)

The votes are COUNTED and then RE-COUNTED, but no clear WINNER is crowned. Deliberations continue for several DAYS, with the many anointed CANDIDATES offering impassioned SPEECHES and DEBATES and a SWIMSUIT PORTION and at least FIFTEEN MINUTES EACH with UNDERTAKER in HELL IN A CELL. FINALLY, a decision is reached!

ARCHDEACON

Let it be known, here in this year of our Lord of 2005, that Anthony Hopkins shall serve as the Bishop of Rome, Pontifex Maximus, Minister of Magic, Clown Prince of Crime, and God-Emperor of the Imperium of Man. Let us hail our new Pope! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fh’tagn!

(blows air horn)

As FIREWORKS blow and STRIPPERS rain dollar bills from the balcony, the BISHOPS begin CHANTING and march into the ANTECHAMBER where they can begin EXANGUINATING the RITUAL GOATS what, this is all totally legit, didn’t you pay attention in SUNDAY SCHOOL?

Only JONATHAN remains.

ARCHBISHOP

Better luck next time, Jonathan. Anthony’s like three hundred years old anyway, you’ll probably get another shot before the Bush administration’s over.

JONATHAN PRYCE

No, brother. I am retiring. The church has chosen regression over progress. We will pay dearly for our folly here today. I cannot be a part of it.

ARCHBISHOP

I’m sorry you feel that way. Let us at least purchase your airfare home.

JONATHAN PRYCE

No need.

JONATHAN hikes up his GARMENT and hops into the VATICAN CANALS, and begins walking on the SURFACE of the WATER in the direction of SOUTH AMERICA.

EXT. BUENOS AIRES - 2012

Years later, JONATHAN still leads a peaceful life giving SERMONS, offering CONFESSION, and FIGHTING CRIME in the EVENINGS as his masked alter ego SUPERPRIEST. One day, a letter comes for him.

JONATHAN PRYCE

(reading)

Ugh. Again?

PARISHIONER

What vexes you, father?

JONATHAN PRYCE

The pope wants me. This time I am definitely, for realsies, no kidding, 100% maybe going to ask him to possibly let me retire eventually.

PARISHIONER

Yeah? You don’t think this is a good chance to bend his ear about all those reforms you won’t shut up about? Or chastise him for the many scandals that have embroiled the church during his tenure?

JONATHAN PRYCE

Oh yeah. Those things too. Sure.

JONATHAN clicks the HEAD on his CRUCIFIX and a BEAM OF LIGHT gently lifts him from the street. He is whisked past HEAVEN, giving GOD a grateful fist bump, before being deposited in the GARDEN of the POPE’S PRIVATE RETREAT. ANTHONY glares at him from a lawn table nearby.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Hmfph. He never does that for me...

JONATHAN PRYCE

Holy Father, I heard you wished to see me.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

A friendly chat, Jonathan. Nothing more. I like to get to know the whining ingrates who won’t stop heckling me.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Holy Father, I criticize purely out of love. I have great respect for you, and your position cannot be an easy one.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Damn straight. You think YOU could Pope better than me, huh?

JONATHAN PRYCE

I could not out-Pope you.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

I saw you in ‘05. You want the job. You want to Pope so hard right now.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I do not want to Pope. You can Pope if you want to. You can leave your friends behind.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(glaring at a flower until it withers)

I have no friends, for some reason. Come. Let’s do a Sorkin Walk. I wish to debate.

They WANDER through the GARDEN. Only the most EAGLE-EYED VIEWERS can grasp the COMPLEX THEOLOGICAL SYMBOLISM.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

You’re a rogue, Jonathan. A maverick. A loose cannon. Why just last year, you were preaching against the church’s position on married priests.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yes. The church must modernize if we are to stay relevant.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

And female priests.

JONATHAN PRYCE

There’s historical precedent.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

And gays.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Have you seen Queer Eye? They’re amazing!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

And child molesters.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yeah, uh, are you… okay with those?

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Scripture protects me! If you turn to Isaiah 5:8, you’ll know I’m right!

JONATHAN PRYCE

Isaiah? Pssh, what nonsense. Try Book of Job, chapter six, verse seventeen!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(pulling out his Duel Disk and strapping it to his arm)

Ah-ha! You’ve activated my Trap Verse! Check Leviticus 4:20 and tremble at my superiority!

JONATHAN PRYCE

(sweating)

A skillful play, Your Holiness. But you forgot one thing… Book of Krispykreme, chapter sixty, verse nine!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Nani?!?!

ANTHONY storms off, defeated.

INT. PAPAL RESIDENCE

Hours later, JONATHAN is summoned to the PRIVATE CHAMBERS. ANTHONY greets him from his COMFY CHAIR in front of the TV.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

So, look who comes crawling back.

JONATHAN PRYCE

You, uh, called me here...

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Enough debate, Jonathan, please. Let us pass the time as brothers for a spell. It’s quite lonely, Popeing all the time. I would have us set aside our differences and rest.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Very well, Your Holiness. I must admit, I am curious how the world’s most powerful religious leader spends his downtime.

They sit for a while and watch KOMMISSAR REX, a German show where a DOG solves CRIMES.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Is this… is this a MadTV sketch?

ANTHONY HOPKINS

I’m eighty-five, okay? I can barely follow the commercials anymore.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Well, Holy Father, now that we’re, uh, friends, I would like to ask you to let me retire from-

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Oh look a piano. And wine! Let’s get Old Guy Wasted!

ANTHONY plays piano and drinks for a bit.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Holy Father, why are you ignoring my request?

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Oh don’t mind me, I’m just being all kooky and old. Let’s chat for a bit. How did you come to join the church?

The SCREEN gets all WAVY as JONATHAN recalls his YOUTH.

INT. ARGENTINIAN CHEMISTRY LAB - BLACK AND WHITE TIMES

Young JUAN MENUJIN gets back to the LAB after a night of TANGO with his LADYFRIEND. His boss, MARIA UCEDO, greets him warmly.

MARIA UCEDO

Looks like you had a lucky night, young man. But I’m glad to see you’re back, putting that chemistry degree to good use, here in the world of science.

JUAN MENUJIN

It’s a good life. But sometimes I wonder if there’s more to life than just facts and numbers. Could there not be some greater power out there?

MARIA UCEDO

You mean electromagnetism? Wrong lab for that, amigo. We mix test tubes here, you want the nerds down the hall.

JUAN MENUJIN

Not what I meant but okay.

JUAN goes for a stroll and purchases a RING for his lady. On the way to propose, he stops by a CHURCH. He steps inside and is greeted by a PRIEST.

PRIEST

I knew you were coming.

JUAN MENUJIN

Really? How?

PRIEST

God told me. He said “someone will come into this church at some point”. And lo and behold, someone did.

JUAN MENUJIN

Good enough for me!

He chucks the RING in the LAKE and dons a ROBE and COLLAR. He follows the PRIEST into the inner sanctum to begin his training as a PADAWAN.

INT. PAPAL RESIDENCE - PRESENT DAY

ANTHONY HOPKINS

A fascinating story, Jon. You seemed much more… Argentinean as a younger man.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I was, Holy Father. Now, as to my retirement-

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Wait!

(tilts head back, listening)

My Pope senses are tingling. We must return to Rome. To the Popecopter!

He pulls on a SPECIAL BOOK and the BOOKSHELF slides away, revealing two FIRE POLES. The two men SLIDE down to the POPECAVE, where their transportation awaits.

EXT. ROME

Having been ABANDONED by his Papal escort, JONATHAN wanders the streets alone, eating PIZZA and mingling with the LOCALS at a sports bar.

BAR PATRON

Gosh, I hate that Pope guy. Always Popeing. What’s he ever Poped for me?

JONATHAN PRYCE

Such anger at the church. I predicted this many years ago.

BAR PATRON

Yeah, hiding child molesters will do that.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I only hope God and/or advances in Alzheimer’s treatments can show our Pope the way forward. As for me, it’s time I headed back to Argentina to-

PAPAL AIDE

Cardinal Jonathan, we’ve been looking all over for you! The Pope needs you again.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Half this goddam movie is me getting summoned places, Jesus. I feel like a bus boy. Where are we off to?

PAPAL AIDE

The Sistine Chapel.

JONATHAN PRYCE

The real one?!

PAPAL AIDE

Well, no. Netflix built their own. Seriously.

JONATHAN PRYCE

(sighs)

Of course they did. You know, people in my home country live on five dollars a day.

INT. NETFLIXTINE CHAPEL

JONATHAN enters the empty building. He stares in AWE at the glorious frescoes covering the walls, each one bearing the NETFLIX WATERMARK in a discreet corner.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Amazing, isn’t it?

JONATHAN PRYCE

Also kind of undercuts this movie’s commentary on wealth inequality, but sure, the drywall is awfully pretty.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Well, I wanted to close down this massive tourist destination for a few hours to talk at you again. You see, I’ve made a decision. I am resigning the Papacy.

JONATHAN PRYCE

(spits out coffee)

I’m sorry but, PORQUE?!?!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Well, the basics of it are, I’m super old and everyone hates me. Those seem like pretty good reasons to let someone else Pope for a bit.

JONATHAN PRYCE

But no! You must Pope! Popes cannot stop Popeing! Popery is terminal, as is written in scripture!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Oh, we’re debating again? Fine.

A NUN walks by holding a CARD above her head that says ROUND 1. A bell dings.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Book of Job, chapter twelve, verse eighteen!

JONATHAN PRYCE

Book of Revelations, chapter “Fuck”, verse “No”!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Book of Sephiroth, chapter Eight-six-seven-five, verse three-oh-nine!

JONATHAN PRYCE

Book of Genesis, chapter Neon, verse Evangelion!

The BELL dings.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

You’re a crafty debater, Jonathan. I think this will serve you well when you Pope.

JONATHAN PRYCE

(spits out more coffee)

ANTHONY HOPKINS

This is the true reason I’ve been dragging you around with me lately. As my likely successor, I needed to be certain the Holy See was in good hands.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Holy Father, I cannot Pope. I will not. My tragic backstory will not allow it!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Okay, seriously, I am offering you the most powerful leadership position in the religious world. What possible excuse could you have to duck me right now?

The screen gets all WAVY again.

EXT. ARGENTINA – 1970S

JONATHAN PRYCE (V.O.)

Just as I began to rise in the church, my home country fell to fascism. It started as it always does, with propaganda disguised as news, mainstreamification of ultranationalism, demonization of immigrants and minorities, and general mistrust of institutions like schools and the press. Before we knew it, political dissidents were being rounded up in the streets. Entire families were whisked off to black sites, never to return. Many of my personal friends were disappeared, and priests became a target for the new regime, especially leftist progressives like myself. I cut a deal with the new dictatorship to protect as many of my people as I could, but I was forced to taciturnly endorse the new regime. Many of my countrymen have never forgiven me, and the compromises I made to save my people haunt me to this day.

(pause)

All of this would have made a much cooler movie. Anyway, back to The (G)Odd Couple.

INT. NETFLIXTINE CHAPEL

ANTHONY HOPKINS

(pause)

Jeeeeesus.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yeah.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Fuck, all I knew about you was you’re the Pope with the chemistry degree. That’s insane.

JONATHAN PRYCE

I’m a little bit touchy about far right policies.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Yeah, I bet. Well, take it from a former Hitler Youth. We all have spots in our pasts we wish people wouldn’t bring up. I still think you’ll make a bomb-ass Pope.

JONATHAN PRYCE

Why?

ANTHONY HOPKINS

At this point, Stockholm Syndrome. I’m sure we’re two very complex individuals in real life, but this whole movie has just been You = Right and Amazing, Me = Awkward and Wrong. So fuck it, if you can’t beat ‘em…

JONATHAN PRYCE

Very well. If I’m asked to Pope, then Pope I shall. Can we celebrate with pizza?

They have a cute scene of them eating PIZZA together.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

That was adorable. Alright, fare thee well, my new frie-

JONATHAN PRYCE

Hold, Anthony. The chapel is opening! Why not wander amongst your people for a few minutes? Become connected, again, to these loving throngs you’ve so long avoided!

ANTHONY HOPKINS

My security will probably shoot anyone who Snapchats me but eh, sure.

ANTHONY walks among the crowds and is roundly LOVED. It is ADORABLE and would NEVER FUCKING HAPPEN.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Alright, a man my age can’t ingest this much sugar. No more cute scenes. I need to-

JONATHAN PRYCE

Let me teach you to tango.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

JESUS, ARE WE MAKING OUT OR WHAT?

They DANCE a little. It’s still pretty FUN.

INT. VATICAN - SOME TIME LATER

The COLLEGE of CARDINALS is convened once more to choose the SUCCESSOR of the newly-abdicated POPE BENEDICT XVI. They TALK and then DEBATE and then PRAY and CLASP HANDS and MINDMELD for a bit, and then they each swallow a LIVE GOLDFISH and the ones who grimace are ELIMINATED, and the remaining candidates sign the PAPERS and drop the MAGIC BALLS into the SAUCER OF WONDER and place the BALLOTS in the MAGIC SMOKEBOX and gather the SEVEN DRAGON BALLS together and make their WISH.

ARCHDEACON

Let it be known that on this day, it so decreed that Jonathan Pryce shall reign as Pope Regent, Sovereign of Vatican City, Supreme Leader of the First Order, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and Golden Joystick Award-Winner for Platform Game of the Year!

The CARDINALS cheer, then complete the ritual by lighting the EFFIGY while NICOLAS CAGE screams inside.

INT. VATICAN - MODERN DAY

JONATHAN sits with ANTHONY in the PAPAL RESIDENCE. They watch FUTBOL together.

JONATHAN PRYCE

So, Anthony, how you liking retirement?

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Love it. Poping is a pain in the communion wafer, lemme tell you. I much prefer easy gigs like this. Hell, I’m pretty sure this whole movie got made because so many people saw Ratzinger and went “when did Anthony Hopkins become Pope?”

JONATHAN PRYCE

Yeah, did you even have an accent in this movie? I’m bouncing between Latin and Spanish and English like I’ve got stock in Rosetta Stone, but you just get to look and talk like you always do and its brilliant.

ANTHONY HOPKINS

Don’t pretend you don’t love me.

They crack some SACRAMENTAL BREWSKIS and drink up.

END

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