Welsh Actor Jonathan Pryce Learned Three Languages for His Role in 'The Two Popes'

Netflix’s ‘The Two Popes’ features scenes in Spanish, Italian, English, and Latin. Does Jonathan Pryce speak Spanish in the film? Details!

Abi Travis - Author

Apr. 15 2020, Updated 11:12 p.m. ET

does jonathan pryce speak spanish
Source: Netflix

If you haven’t seen The Two Popes yet, now is the perfect time to do so. It’s streaming on Netflix which means you don’t even have to leave your couch or change out of your pajamas to watch a film that already has four Golden Globe nominations (and might be in the running for some Oscar love, too).

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Jonathan Pryce has spoken about some of the challenges of portraying Pope Francis in the film. Among those challenges is the fact that Pope Francis speaks several languages, including Spanish. Does Jonathan Pryce speak Spanish? Read on to find out.

jonathan pryce spanish
Source: Netflix
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Does Jonathan Pryce speak Spanish?

Significant portions of the film are in languages other than English. This isn’t really a surprise considering that in real life, both Popes are fluent in multiple languages. Pope Benedict is a native German speaker and is fluent in Italian, French, English, Spanish. He also knows Portuguese, Latin, Biblical Hebrew, and Biblical Greek.

Having been born in Argentina, Pope Francis is a native Spanish speaker. He is fluent in Italian and can speak Portuguese, French, German, Ukrainian, Piedmontese, and English. He has studied Latin, Biblical Hebrew, and Biblical Greek. (And that’s nothing compared to the late Pope John Paul II — he delivered Easter greetings in approximately 60 different languages!)

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Jonathan Pryce is a Welsh actor who speaks Welsh and English. He does not speak Spanish fluently but did learn some Spanish for his role as Pope Francis. He also had to learn some Latin and Italian. All of his lines in the film — regardless of the language they’re spoken in — were actually said by Jonathan. Pretty impressive!

speak spanish jonathan pryce
Source: Netflix
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Jonathan watched a lot of YouTube to prepare for his role as Pope Francis.

In an interview with CNN, Jonathan said that he watched videos of Pope Francis in preparation for his role in The Two Popes. “I watched a lot of videos on YouTube to get a sense of the man, the way he moved, his soft voice, how he gently approaches the issues,” he said. But not every video of Pope Francis shows the same gentleness.

“I found a piece of film from when he was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He was being interrogated by a panel of his peers.” Jonathan said. “That was a very different image of the man. He was stern, drumming his fingers with impatience on the table. It was quite a different figure from the kindly man who showed up on that balcony in St. Peter's Square the night he was elected Pope.”

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Co-star Anthony Hopkins also had to do some extra studying for his role.

In an interview with Deadline, Anthony said he had to learn both Latin and Italian for his role. “I do like to know the lines so well, and I had to learn Latin and Italian, but because I was such a duffer at school, I’ve got this obsession of, I’ve got to know, I’ve got to know, and that’s my one control factor, I guess,” he said.

“I had to stumble about in Latin a bit, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge of learning a bit of Latin, a bit of Italian, and then to be in Rome.”

The Two Popes is still playing in a few theaters and is currently streaming on Netflix.

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