JON VOIGHT EARNS EMMY NOMINATION, CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR ROLE AS POPE JOHN PAUL II
Acclaimed actor and Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Jon Voight was nominated for an Emmy award (Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie), and has received critical and popular acclaim for his role in the CBS mini-series "Pope John Paul II", which originally aired on December 4th and 7th, 2005.
Voight played the older John Paul II from 1978, when he was elected pope, until his death in April, 2005. Cary Elwes played the younger Karol "Lolek" Wojtyla, who was born and raised in Poland and lived under Nazi occupation as a young man. The three-hour mini-series depicts Wojtyla's life as priest, appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and election as the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years on October 16, 1978. "Pope John Paul II" also stars Ben Gazzara, James Cromwell, and Christopher Lee.
Voight was raised in a Catholic home, attended Catholic University of America, and is a practicing Catholic, as is Elwes. Both actors have spoken fondly of the late pontiff and expressed how much it meant to them to portray one of the most beloved and well-known world leaders of modern history, a man who inspired both Catholics and non-Catholics around the world.
"I didn't really think of him in the full height of his contribution until after he'd passed," Voight told The Catholic Digest (February 2005) before the mini-series aired. "I took him for granted a little bit, and I think a lot of people felt that, and they didn't get a chance to say goodbye. So when we were making the film, both Cary and I had this enormous response to our work and to our persons as well. People were very emotional both in Poland and in Rome as we were making the film." The mini-series was shot on location in Krakow, Poland and in Italy, including exclusive footage filmed on St. Peter's Square, in the Sistine Chapel, and in other areas of the Vatican. In addition, script consultation was given by Vatican historians.
Voight was impressed with John Paul's humor, toughness, and tenderness. "As pope, [John Paul II] saw and experienced so much suffering," Voight told Beliefnet.com in an interview last year. "He saw the church could do a great deal to protect people and be a voice for changing the temper of the times and giving hope." Known for his intense preparation and ability to disappear completely into a character, Voight gave a performance of the aging pontiff that has received effusive reviews from critics.
"Voight is quite extraordinary," wrote Harry Forbes of Catholic News Service. "Besides doing a spot-on impersonation of Pope John Paul's public persona, he ages most convincingly... It's a heart wrenching portrayal." USA Today observed, "Voight stands out... he closely mirrors our image of the pope as a person: that mix of majesty and humility, humor and steel."
Pope Benedict XVI, successor to John Paul II and a close friend of the Polish pope, was also impressed by the CBS production, stating, "Watching this film has renewed in me a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual nature."
Born in Yonkers, New York in 1938, Voight first gained widespread attention and received a Golden Globe Award for his 1969 role in the controversial movie "Midnight Cowboy," which also starred Dustin Hoffman. In 1978 he won the best actor Oscar Award for his performance in the film "Coming Home," in which he played a conflicted Vietnam veteran. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his performances in the films "Midnight Cowboy", "Runaway Train", and, most recently, "Ali," in which he played famed sports announcer Howard Cosell.
Voight has also starred in "National Treasure," "Pearl Harbor," "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Mission Impossible," "Varsity Blues," "Enemy of the State," "Anaconda," "The General," "The Odessa File," "Deliverance," "The Rainmaker" and "The Champ." His television credits include the movies "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "Uprising," and the mini-series "Jack and The Beanstalk: The Real Story" and "Return to Lonesome Dove," both on CBS. He directorial debut was the television movie "The Tin Soldier."
This epic film follows Karol Wojtyla's journey from his youth in Poland through his late days on the Chair of St. Peter. It explores his life behind the scenes: how he touched millions of people and changed the face of the Church and the world; how he defended the dignity of mankind. Jon Voight's powerful, Emmy-nominated performance as John Paul II was widely praised, as was Cary Elwes as the young Karol. Shot on location in Rome and Poland in close connection with the Vatican, this is the definitive epic film on the life of Pope John Paul II. Stars Jon Voight, Cary Elwes, Ben Gazzara, James Cromwell, and Christopher Lee.
DVD includes Spanish subtitles and special sixteen-page collectible booklet. Closed captioned.
"Voight is quite extraordinary. Besides doing a spot-on impersonation of Pope John Paul's public persona, he ages most convincingly... It's a heart wrenching portrayal. Pope Benedict XVI attended the world premiere screening and at the conclusion blessed the miniseries -- the ultimate endorsement!" - Harry Forbes, Catholic News Service
"Watching this film has renewed in me a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual nature." - Pope Benedict XVI
"Although shot on a lavish scale in Italy, Poland and elsewhere, 'Pope John Paul II' succeeds on intimate terms even when troops are marching or huge crowds are filling St. Peter's Square, and Elwes and Voight are largely responsible. The movie is honestly and actually about something... It's the ability to instill joy in human hearts, and the film not only celebrates it but, in its finest moments, even possesses it." - The Washington Post
"Voight stands out... he closely mirrors our image of the pope as a person: that mix of majesty and humility, humor and steel." - USA Today
"Writer-director John Kent Harrison wisely finds a narrative focus... as the pope stares down the unraveling Soviets hoping to help free his native Poland. More than anything, Voight's performance... taps into John Paul's emotional life... it's a remarkable performance." - Variety
"Succeeds brilliantly... it does reveal why most of those who criticized [Pope John Paul II] also loved him." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Elwes... deftly depicts the internal struggle that finally drove Wojtyla to be trained for the priesthood. [This film] understands the importance of taking the time to see Pope John Paul II as a fully rounded human being as opposed to a hollow icon." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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