As the Vatican’s church bells ring in the second trailer for HBO’s The New Pope, it’s time for John Malkovich’s Sir John Brannix to ascend to the papacy. The new nine-episode limited series is a continuation of 2016’s The Young Pope, led by Jude Law in the role of Pope Pius XIII.

And while they are separate productions, both created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, they’re still very much connected. Pope Pius XII is still in a coma as the new season opens, and at some point, Brannix is chosen to lead the papacy as Pope John Paul III.

“Everyone in the world should know who the Pope is. It’s not vanity, it’s necessity,” the new pope says in voiceover before cheekily posing for a series of photos.

Early reviews out of the Venice Film Festival, where two episodes were screened on Sept. 1, confirm that fans of drama and intrigue will have plenty of both. Marilyn Manson and Sharon Stone will appear in the new series in as-yet-unknown roles.

As for what fans can expect from the drama, Sorrentino told Variety at the festival, “The series tries to take a broad approach to the topic of religious fanaticism, which is usually associated with recent acts of Muslim terrorism.

“But it’s actually not just limited to that. I see the Vatican as a thermometer of all the potentially explosive forms of fanaticism. In the current political climate where everything is possible…with the sudden rise of leaders who have unexpected followings, it’s not just about Islamic terrorism. Forms of fanaticism can also be found within a Catholic context….So we are trying to look ahead – not at what we know, but at what could take place.”

The New Pope debuts in January.

Related content:

The New Pope
Paolo Sorrentino and Jude Law's follow-up to 'The Young Pope.'
  • TV Show
  • 1