Robert De Niro is set to play the Pope

De Niro’s movie rivals Steven Spielberg’s film about Catholic Church’s kidnap of a six-year-old boy

Robert De Niro is set to play a 19th century Pope, in a film which would rival Steven Spielberg’s movie about the same scandal.

Spielberg has cast Mark Rylance to play Pope Pius IX in Edgardo, which tells the story of how six-year-old Edgardo Mortara was taken from his Jewish parents by police in Bologna, Italy, in 1857 and raised as a Catholic under Pope Pius IX’s protection.

Pope Pius IX refused Mortara’s pleas to return home, and Mortara eventually became a priest.


Spielberg was initially due to make Edgardo with leading Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, but their deal fell through in April. Weinstein is now set to make a rival film, which will star De Niro as Pope Pius IX and be directed by Baltasar Kormakur, who previously directed Everest.

Weinstein’s film is based on a novel about the Mortara case, The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, written in 1997 by author David Kertzer. It’s to be adapted by Jeremy Brock, who wrote the screenplay of The Last King Of Scotland.

Although his film was conceived after Spielberg’s, Weinstein’s film is due to begin shooting in January, with Spielberg’s film following in spring. Spielberg’s film stars Oscar Isaac – Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – as Mortara, focusing on his adult life, while Weinstein’s film concentrates on the kidnapping itself.

Pope Pius IX died in 1878 and was made a saint in 2000.