Critically acclaimed television, film and stage actor Raoul Bhaneja lights up the big screen in the highly-anticipated drama feature Miss Sloane, alongside Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alison Pill and John Lithgow.
Miss Slone pulls the curtain back on how Capitol Hill games are played (and won) and tells the story of a brilliant and ruthless lobbyist (Jessica Chastain), who is notorious for her unparalleled talent and desire to win, even at the risk of her own career. Raoul will step into the shoes of R.M. Dutton, a brilliant and highly regarded lobbyist who will do anything to win, no matter the cost.
Bhaneja is an accomplished musician and front man of his award winning blues band Raoul and the Big Time. Releasing multiple albums, the band has performed all over Canada and won a Maple Blues Award.
When he is not acting, producing or recording music, Bhaneja supports numerous charities including the National Theatre School of Canada; he received the Christopher Plummer International Fellowship through the Shakespeare’s Global Centre of Canada and is now on the board. Additionally, he is passionate about the YMCA and plans to give back to organizations related to Doctors Without Borders.
Check out what Bhaneja has to say about his music, grilling a steak to perfection, and his fondness for scotch.
Tell us a bit about the projects you have coming up.
I’ve always got a lot going on as I hate not being busy. I’ve usually got an upcoming gig on the horizon with my band Raoul and The Big Time while I’m waiting in between film and television projects. That performance outlet usually keeps me sane. I was last on stage with my wife (Birgitte Solem) in our production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced by my friend Ayad Akhtar and we are taking that on the road soon. The biggest project on my horizon is the upcoming release of Miss Sloane, which I am in opposite some of my favorite actors such as Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Sam Waterston, and many more. I’m excited to see where that one goes.
With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your down time?
I’m on the road a lot, particularly the last few years as I toured across the country with a musical I wrote called Life, Death and The Blues, so when I’m at home I am hanging with my two kids as much as I can. It’s hard to be away but it comes with this kind of work, so when I’m home I try to be home. Whatever they are doing is what I am doing… I do love to sneak out and catch an NBA or MLB game if I can as well as some good live music.
When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?
Well, it’s probably due to my heritage…I’m half South Asian, I have pretty much eaten at an Indian restaurant in every town I’ve been in for more than a few days, all over the world. I seek them out and I am a fan of Tandoori, so I spend a lot of time comparing restaurants on that, particularly if they specialize in North Indian cuisine.
What types of dishes do you usually order?
Tandoori Chicken, usually a half chicken order is my absolute favorite and the dish I start with to see if I like the place and will ever return. If they get that right, I am back! If it’s a restaurant with more of a South Indian focus I will of course give them a pass and head for some kind of curry, but avoid the vindaloo as I don’t mind hot, but there is no need to kill yourself!
Do you cook?
I’m in charge of the grill, and probably my greatest success has come with steak over the last fifteen years or so. I’ve really come to appreciate it as I learn more about it. I’ve stopped ordering it out as much as I prefer how I make it and I try to eat organic or “naturally raised” as much as I can. It’s more sustainable, humane but of course more expensive so it probably stops me from over doing it even though I most likely have eaten more red meat than I should…
What types of drinks do you order when out?
I’m not much of a drinker and never have been. I play blues music and from when I got started in my late teens, I was around guys (mainly) who had struggles with alcohol. The generation before mine also had a lot of drugs in the game, particularly in the ‘70s and ‘80s and I saw them struggle or saw them spend lots of time dealing with the aftermath so I stayed away from both. When you work in the “nightlife” business you have to be careful to remember you’re the one at work when others are at play. I want people to have a good time so they can do what they like, but for me it’s the odd scotch at home and that’s about it.
Do you prepare drinks at home?
I’m staring at a bottle of 10-year aged Balvenie single malt on the kitchen counter that I’m working through very slowly, but probably a little quicker over the winter when I feel any kind of bug coming on. I like to zap it with a shot and see what that does… the trick is not to zap it over and over and over again.
Do you own a home bar?
I recall in my youth the home bar being a thing, and I also recall my older (teenage) brother syphoning off portions with his friends and filing the bottles with water. I think my parents started marking off the bottles, so now that I have kids I don’t have a bar! I do have a few bottles of some wine for when we have friends over but that’s about it.
If you did own a home bar, what would it be like?
One you can swim up to!
What is your favorite cocktail?
I like a single malt, no ice or if I’m having a cocktail with my wife, it would be her favorite and one that is big up in Canada, The Caesar, with Clamato juice, not a Bloody Mary with tomato juice!
Have you ever been a bartender?
I was the worst bartender in the history of bartending. That was about twenty years ago when I left theatre school and moved to the big city. It was a very short-lived career, and it’s lucky for patrons that I never kept up, as I’m not sure how many thousands of drinks I would have ruined.
I recall one night as a server even before I moved behind the bar, where a guy asked for the most expensive single malt we had and wanted it “neat.” I had no idea what that meant so when I came back with a block of ice melting in his fifty dollar double he tore a strip off me. Now, of course I know you don’t need to tell me what “neat” means.
Follow Raoul Bhaneja on Twitter.
View the official trailer for MISS SLOANE below.