Kal Penn talks about his latest film “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain”

Kal Penn is known best for his roles in the “Harold and Kumar” film series and TV with “How I Met Your Mother” and “House”. He recently took a break from acting to take a job as the Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement working with President Obama. His latest film “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain”, which is a fictional adaptation of the Union Carbide chemical spill disaster of 1984 was made back in 2009 and finally getting a release on November 7th. Kal recently took some time to chat with Media Mikes to discuss his film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: What was it about “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” that made you returning to acting?
Kal Penn: I had a hard time trying to describe the film, while I was shooting it. Friends of mine asked me why I wanted to do this movie and I said that I felt that the script was very powerful. I knew that when I read the script it really appealed to me and it was like nothing I had worked on before. It was a fictional adaptation of something that had actually happened. I sat down with the director and asked him why he wanted to make it? He grew up not too far from where the disaster actually took place. There have been some documentaries about it and some articles and books but no one has ever done a feature length fictional adaption about it. At the time we made it, it was 25 years after the disaster. Plus the fact that Martin Sheen was doing it. So selfishly as an actor I couldn’t say no.

MG: With your position at the White House, when did you do this film?
KP: I took a sabbatical from acting from 2009 to 2011 and had the chance to work in the White House. I knew that I was going to leave during that second year to come back to acting. This movie actually split that time. It was shot in 2009 and it was the last thing I worked on before I went off to the White House. After I came back to acting, I did the last season of “How I Met Your Mother” and I got a call about “Bhopal” and was told that that it was still wrapping up post production. They said that there was a lot of special effects in the last 15 minutes of the film and that I was going to be needed to come in and do some ADR, as they worked on their final edits. As of about six months ago, we knew that there was going to be a release date and they secured distribution.

MG: Tell us about your character Motwani and how you prepared?
KP: I did a bunch of research and read up a lot on the disaster. I spoke with the writer to find out what percentage of the character was fictionalized and adapted and what was real. My character as it turned out was one of the aspects that was largely fictionalized. The way that Ravi (Kumar) wrote the character was a lot broader. So my first question to him was that should I call the journalist that my character was loosely based on and try and talk to him. He told me “No, I want your character to be much broader from the start of the film”. He is this sort of larger than life gossip columnist that no one in town trusts because he keeps writing nonsense because it will sell newspapers. But over the course of the film, he is trying to warn the town of an impending gas leak in this factory and of course, nobody believes him. I thought it was a really layered role and a very well-developed character. So I mostly relied on the writer a lot instead of the historical context.

MG: What was it like shooting on location in India?
KP: It was awesome. I had only shot in India once before and that was for “The Namesake”. This movie we shot in Hyderabad and Mumbai. It is very different to shoot there. Kind of the biggest shocker for me was that actors would work on a couple of movies at the same time. They are shooting Monday and Tuesday on one movie and a second one on Thursday. It is a bit chaotic but in a really cool different way. It was a good learning experience. It also makes it a more dynamic environment when shooting on location.

MG: Do you think/hope that the film will bring more awareness to the event?
KP: My biggest hope going into the movie, even before we shot it, was that we do justice to the events that happened. It is an incredibly complex series of events and there are still people alive today that are living with the effects of what happened. Neither Union Carbide nor Dow Chemical ever actually apologized for what happened. It is also still not cleaned up in fact and the factory is still lying there empty. So if a fictional adaptation can get the conversation started and maybe even helps these people, then yeah I think that is great. But even beyond that, we did a screening in New York and it was interesting to hear people leave the screening that didn’t know that this was based on a true story. It really sparked some great conversations.

MG: You have done a mix of film and TV within genres of comedy and drama; do you have a personal preference?
KP: I love doing both. I hope that I am lucky enough to continue doing both. My fans have been really kind to me and I love them for it. To be able to go and do a stoner movie and then turn around and play a doctor is awesome. That is what I love about being an actor, I really enjoy playing all different kinds of characters. If I can continue to do that then I will be one happy person.

MG: Do you think we will ever see the return of Harold and Kumar?
KP: I would be happy to do as many as they will let me do. I would do “Harold and Kumar 58” when I am 102 years old [laughs]. Kumar is so much cooler than I will ever be in real life.

Sportsman Channel and Penn Jillette Set to Conjure Series Launch of “Camp Stew” on Thursday, July 17

“The Best of the Worst of the Great Outdoors”

NEW BERLIN, WI (July 3, 2014) – Illusionist and magician Penn Jillette is teaming with Sportsman Channel, the leader in outdoor television for American sportsmen and women, for the launch of the network’s newest original program Camp Stew,exclusively premiering on Thursday, July 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Camp Stew – a reference to a favorite hunters’ dish comprised of a mishmash of ingredients including ground beef, chicken, pork, beans, corn, tomatoes and other additions – on Sportsman Channel will comprise of a variety of clips from all facets of the outdoor lifestyle. The new and exciting 10-episode program will showcase some of the craziest outdoor videos ever recorded, with Penn adding his unique brand of commentary to these incredible clips. Each 30-minute episode will feature host commentary from Penn Jillette in front of clips of some of the wildest adventures ever caught on tape.

Clips will include footage involving “Girls and Guns,” “Backyard Rambos,” “Wild Hunts and Cold Outdoors,” “Outdoor Pranks,” “Unreal Shots,” and many more scenes that will elicit a smile, offer a grimace, and even educate. Camp Stew is the third show produced in conjunction with Sportsman Channel and Pilgrim Studios. Executive Producers are Craig Piligian, Jake Shelton and Brett Boydstun.

“A series never tasted so good.  This show will entertain and engage viewers with the sometimes amazing and sometimes humorous side of the outdoor lifestyle,” said Marc Fein, executive vice president of programming and production for Sportsman Channel. “Having Penn Jillette as the host of Camp Stew is magic!”

“I’m happy to be a part of the Sportsman Channel family,” added Jillette, a noted firearms enthusiast and second amendment advocate. “I’m way excited to host Camp Stew, a show about serious outdoor fails. No camera tricks, no magic, just plain funny real-life wackiness in the great outdoors.”

Additionally, Sportsman Channel has engaged John Deere in a significant partnership for the duration of Camp Stew. John Deereis one of the biggest and most respected brands in the world and will provide a presence in Camp Stew throughout the third quarter.

Sportsman Channel is a part of the nation’s largest multimedia company targeting and created exclusively to serve the information and entertainment needs of outdoors enthusiasts. Sportsman Channel is dedicated to providing the most entertaining and informative hunting, shooting and fishing multimedia content while also promoting conservation and the tradition of the sportsman lifestyle.

Join the Twitter conversation @SPORTSMANchnl and let your voice be heard by using #CampStewTV.

About Pilgrim Studios: Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios produces a wide variety of unscripted and scripted programming for television, including hit series Fast N’ LoudStreet Outlaws and #BikerLive for Discovery; Ghost Hunters and The Wil Wheaton Project for Syfy; The Ultimate Fighter for FOX Sports 1; Down East Dickering for History; Orange County Choppers and Swamp Pawn for CMT; Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and Raising Whitley for OWN (Pilgrim also produced the eight-part documentary Lindsayfor the network); David Tutera: Unveiled for WEtv; Wicked Tuna and its new spin-off, Wicked Tuna: North vs. South, for National Geographic Channel; and Bring It! for Lifetime. In the scripted realm, Pilgrim’s original movies for Lifetime include Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In ItalyAbducted: The Carlina White Story, which earned a 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing In A Motion Picture; and the crime thriller Stalkers.  Among Pilgrim’s current scripted projects is the pilot Recovery Road for ABC Family, starring Samantha Logan.

About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel/Sportsman HD is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to honoring a lifestyle that is celebrated by millions of Americans. The leader in outdoor television, Sportsman Channel delivers entertaining and informative programming that embraces outdoor adventure, hunting and fishing, and reveals it through unique, surprising and authentic storytelling. Sportsman Channel embraces the attitude of  “Red, Wild & Blue America” – where the American Spirit and Great Outdoors are celebrated in equal measure. The network also is dedicated to promoting our nation’s military heroes and veterans, as well as providing a voice for conservation throughout the United States.Sportsman Channel reaches more than 36 million U.S. television households. Stay connected to Sportsman Channel online at www.thesportsmanchannel.com; Facebook, (facebook.com/sportsmanchannel); Twitter (twitter.com/SPORTSMANchnl and twitter.com/SportsmanPR) and YouTube (youtube.com/TheSportsmanChannel).

To find Sportsman Channel in your area click here.