Jude Law stars as a disruptive pontiff in HBO’s ‘Young Pope’

Jude Law stars as a disruptive pontiff in HBO’s ‘Young Pope’
This image released by HBO shows Jude Law, left, and Silvio Orlando from the HBO series, “The Young Pope,” premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. EST. (Gianni Fiorito/HBO via AP.)

NEW YORK – In HBO’s absorbing new drama “The Young Pope,” Jude Law plays the title character, American-born Lenny Belardo, who, through divine intervention or woeful human error (this will be hotly debated), is made Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church at the tender age of 47.

A disruptive, puzzling presence who describes himself as “intransigent, irritable and vindictive,” Pope Pius XIII from the start of his papacy is at cross-purposes with the Vatican’s appalled establishment. Swiftly, efforts by the College of Cardinals to bring him down catch fire.

The 10-episode series also stars Diane Keaton and James Cromwell among its international roster.

“The Young Pope” was created, directed and written by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (whose 2013 film, “The Great Beauty,” won the Oscar for best foreign language film).

This week, he and Law, whose credits include “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” ”Cold Mountain” and Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” films, sat down in New York to talk about their bold collaboration, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.

Here are highlights from that conversation (with assistance from Sorrentino’s translator):

SORRENTINO: The idea for ‘The Young Pope’ really stems from my high school years with Catholic priests as teachers. I was able to observe the solitude of those priests, and how much their lives were structured. And also how their universe marginalized the feminine aspect in the service of the masculine. I was able to draw on memories of those five years.

But although the film is incidentally about the Catholic Church, it’s also about a wider circle, which is the issue of faith – the question of believing or non-believing – which sooner or later affects us all.

LAW: At the core of our series is its humanity. We penetrate the layers of curiosity and intrigue surrounding the very human institution of the Catholic Church, and explore how people interact within it.

Preparing for my role, I initially felt…