Because you’re not allowed to shoot a work of fiction in the Vatican, production designer Mark Tildesley was tasked with recreating the iconic building for “The Two Popes.” “We used I’d say a 60/40 build vs. location relationship,” he reveals. Although parts of the film were shot in various palaces and buildings around Rome “that are of the same period as the Vatican,” he had to build several rooms from scratch, most notably the Sistine Chapel, the Room of Tears and the Pope’s office. Watch our exclusive video interview with Tildesley above.
Directed by Oscar nominee Fernando Meirelles (“City of God”), the Netflix release is a cinematic two-hander between the conservative Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the future Pope Francis I (Jonathan Pryce), who is more liberal. They debate the future of the Catholic Church as Benedict considers resigning from the papacy amid scandals.
Although Anthony McCarten‘s script is essentially fiction (a meeting between the two did occur, but no one knows what exactly they talked about), Tildesley felt it was “important not to take people out of the movie in any dramatic way.” The film has elements of “documentary,” cutting between news footage and filmed scenes, so he wanted “to keep it as honest as possible” and recreate these real locations accurately.
Tildesley previously worked with Meirelles on “The Constant Gardener” (2005), which earned him an Art Directors Guild Award nomination. He’s also a frequent collaborator with Danny Boyle, working with him on “28 Days Later,” “Millions,” “Sunshine,” “Trance,” “T2 Trainspotting” and “Isles of Wonder,” the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London that won them both an Emmy. He recently contended at the Critics’ Choice Awards for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Phantom Thread” (2017) and just completed shooting the next James Bond movie, “No Time to Die” (2020).
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