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Gabriel Byrne announced for new season of ‘Marco Polo’ on Netflix
24 May 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Gabriel Byrne as Pope Gregory X in ‘Marco Polo’
Netflix has announced that Irish actor Gabriel Byrne will play the part of Pope Gregory X in the second season of Marco Polo which launches on Netflix on 1 July.

‘Marco Polo’ is an American drama series inspired by Marco Polo's early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), in Khanbaliq (modern Beijing).

John Fusco, who wrote the Academy-Award nominated feature ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’ is executive producer and showrunner along with Dan Minahan, whose previous work includes ‘Homeland’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, with Patrick Macmanus, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein and Elizabeth Sarnoff as executive producers.

Commenting on the role, Gabriel Byrne said: "I’ve always been kind of fascinated by Papal history, and the Janiston play, the Pope doesn’t come up every day. I mean I’ve played the devil, played a priest but you know to play the Pope is an interesting segue. So I was very happy to be part of it. And it’s a huge production, a gigantic crew, so the idea of joining a huge enterprise like this, was interesting".

Byrne has become a denizen of the small screen in recent years, winning a Golden Globe Award for the HBO series ‘In Treatment’ as well as starring in Irish drama series ‘Quirke’ and ‘Vikings’. The actor states that people are absorbing dramas differently nowadays with the more interesting and varied scripts occurring in television, not in film.

"An interesting change has happened over the last few years in terms of film and television; more people are watching Netflix rather than actually going to see independent films”, said Byrne, who has recently starred in the feature film ‘Louder Than Bombs’ alongside Jesse Eisenberg. “There was a time television was snobingly regarded as the poor cousin of the cinema artistically. But now people are beginning to see that writers have the power in television, so scripts and themes are more varied and more interesting... The market for this kind of production means that it will reach households all over the world and that’s an enormous difference to what it was like 15/20 years ago when if you made a film like this it would come to a cinema, probably a multiplex, you go see it but it didn’t reach into areas outside the multiplex.”

Byrne continued: “So, in a way, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, they are now in people’s houses with what used to be the product of the cinema...There’s tremendous scope artistically to deal with a variety of topics because of the freedom in these kind of productions...And it’s changed the way people absorb entertainment."

‘Marco Polo’ is produced by The Weinstein Company for Netflix and the second seasom will launch on July 1st.

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