Actor Bruno Ganz Played Hitler, Will Play Pope Next

Bruno Hanz as Hitler

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz has portrayed Adolf Hitler in the past, and his next role takes him out of the Führerbunker and into the Vatican.

Showtime has cast Ganz as Pope Sixtus VI in the pilot The Vatican, described as “a contemporary thriller delving deep into the political world of the Catholic Church.”

Mere days after the announcement of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new real-life pope, Ganz was cast in the role as a fictional pope, who will deal with Vatican rivalries, spirituality, power, politics, and the “mysteries and miracles behind the institution” set amid modern day cultural concerns.

The series will also star Friday Night Lights lead Kyle Chandler as Cardinal Thomas Duffy, a charismatic New York archbishop.

House‘s Paul Attanasio wrote the one-hour pilot, and Ridley Scott has been brought on to direct the episode, which will be his very first television pilot. Full production on the show is expected to begin soon, with Attanasio, Scott and David Zucker executive producing.

The cast will also include Anna Friel as Duffy’s sister, Sebastian Koch as Cardinal Marco Malerba, Matthew Goode as papal secretary Bernd Koch, and Ewen Bremner as Monsignor Alberico Iemma, who investigates and pronounces miracles for the Catholic Church.

Ganz’s role is described as a pope of German heritage, as well as an unassuming and introspective leader of the church. His struggles with his own legacy and how history will perceive his papacy will serve as central conflicts.

Now on to the Hitler stuff. It’s highly doubtful that most of you reading this saw Ganz’s performance as Adolf Hitler in the critically acclaimed film Downfall, but it’s more likely that you’ve seen a version of the YouTube meme that made his performance famous on the Internet.


Ganz won tons of awards for his portrayal of the Nazi dictator, but it’s the Internet craze regarding one particular scene that the film is probably best known for in the public consciousness. YouTube videos show an epic rant from Ganz’s Hitler, re-subtitled to lampoon various elements of pop culture and politics.

See for yourself: