'Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain'

Kal Penn talks new movie, new projects
13:04 | 11/11/14

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Transcript for 'Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain'
They're from the White House to white castle our guest today has taken on some pretty incredible adventures both on and off the screen. In fact here's look at his newest project. I'm. We'll. Look like. Union adult life. She goes fourteen tons of poison into the hall of its. Over the reveals when was going to be fun. As you know. That is the scene from the new big screen feature bow Paul. A prayer for rain and today in the studio with us we are delighted to have a start the film help and with us thanks for being with us thanks revenues and so. This it's a fictional adaptation. Very tragic event that happened almost thirty years ago yet thirty years. Who in December actually there was at its it's marked as the worst industrial disaster. To date from a mistaken there was a ghastly giving Union Carbide. Pesticide plant in in the middle of India that killed about 5000 people that night and since then tens of thousands much of an affected by. In the site that's have been cleaned up the you know the health situation that still still they're so our writer and director guy name rob people more. British guy who grew up actually around bow Paul percent of the team's gonna write the script wanted it to be as balanced as possible. Touching on all the issues like corruption in corporate greed and environmental law and it all the things it that. Then are really tragic but or version is a fictionalized adaptation and hopefully stole those justice to the that they actual votes -- surprised to hear that you know of a tragedy of this significance and magnitude had never. Been told before in this kind of way. Yeah you know that there have been some normal documentaries books of course articles written about it because it happened in the in the early eighties I think and because essentially never been cleaned up there's been this. I think hesitation particularly in the creative space to tackle this as a as a fictional adaptation but. Some of our early screenings and that really good response which was important to me as an actor to make sure that you know you're doing justice and peace but also. Inform the audience entertained the audience if it seems like it's been an ice builds and it will fund of one of open wheel well and we. We're in this shot India yeah. When you're talking some of the people there as your on location shooting you're talking about the film which are working on with the eager to shares. Their own stories are they think we you know it is I guess is there since. That this story should be told and now they're often times you know. You know people might have to sort of mixed feelings on Chad kind of raw emotion no that's a great question I mean it will my experience was that you know there are three of us were American actress myself mission Berkman Martin Sheen in the rest of the cast is is either Indian or European. And when we first got to India there was there was some hesitation I think a lot of questions what's the movie about. Which perspective are you taking which I thought was very interest and I think the feeling was he would either take. In Indian perspective in which you would criticize you know Union Carbide and Dow Chemical or even take the western perspective which would criticize. Indian government corruption and. Lax environmental laws or film touches on both but there was an understandable hesitation if it from from folks there. That's in contrast I think to the reactions we've had from the screenings we've screened and in Mumbai which printed and in New York so far. And the reactions have actually been quite positive particularly from survivors who were in are still living in Bhopal really active in. In trying to get some justice for for the folks are still of their and they seem to respond positively contention in you have some survivors we have the a lot of them actually came amnesty international's partner with us on and on releasing the film they have a campaign and ongoing. Regarding both Paul and they brought some survivors for screening and it you know really powerful conversations and about. Then things that they've been through their families of that there are certainly folks that they've they've lost along the way. Oh euros per. Unique in this film you play. Diplomat a colorful journalists under a gossip columnist secure area. What Ritter writer where Margaret a describe the character. I wish I got to keep those shirts and any attitude that Clinton regular girls audiences certainly worth them he you know when when when I read the script after all the seriousness and making sure that into the the passion with with which the director spoke about about want him at this film. Accountable it was interesting he did the character Ripley is really broad really kind of a larger than life that when it starts out as the movie progresses you realize all the subtleties. You know he. Because he's prudential which trashing his gossip gossip column nobody believes him when he actually does real investigative journalism and finds out that this impending disaster might take place none of the people in the city that that he clearly loves over the course of the film believe him. And I thought that park was particularly in choosing especially going from a really broad comical character this maneuvered into the movie being really you really feel feel for. Is speaking at reaching a wide spectrum your career certainly has done that I mean on The Who have I think if you look at your resonate. People would have to do a double take and asking making sure that fact that they that they have a Mike mixed F five or six different people what are the things you have listed on there is obviously the associate director. In the Obama administration for the office of public engagement. Explaining how that even came ashore and that's a very nice of you say I appreciate. You know in 2007. If you remember there was a Hollywood writers' strikes are screeners rhetoric. Those those of us were actors were very limited in what we can do once Scripps and have already been written were shot. You couldn't do very much and writer on the same time the president it was at that point down forty points in the polls in the Iowa Caucuses you know there were twelve democratic candidates are or whatever was. I had read his books are really enjoyed what I had read about him in and I'm an independent political excellent Democrat or Republican went off to work were formed volunteer first campaign. And then you know that insane wave that that followed. After all was said and done and he he was inaugurated there was an opportunity to serve. In the White House working on what I'd worked on on the campaign which was outreach to young Americans primarily. You know college students beyond veterans folks like that and it was and I'd send to take a sabbatical for two years from acting. Had you know an incredible experiencing what it was like working in Washington particularly in the issues that I was working on were. Largely popular with folks under 35 you know things like the health care law or repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell for a doubling the pell grant things that were really focused on. On on all folks and has also before I think the polarization of especially last week in. And crazy ads and things like that so I look I had I had a great experience I I still certainly stand by the president or percent and also feel strangely blessed that fans would after taking a sabbatical have me back to do more ridiculous Stoner movies and some in serious so. What really lucky. Yeah and Ariel untouched by the forget. Your experience in Washington DC. Crazier than Hollywood. Different than Hollywood I think both titles are crazy I'll of the prisoners of both towns I think. What was strange was to see that the towns are actually very similar into the dominant industry in both Los Angeles. In DC was. Respectively or entertainment and baltics of course. So there are certain meters there. I think it's I always think it strange that. The privilege that they have to actually change things for real threat you know Hollywood we like to talk communion and make a movie and and that's all great element to death that's what for slow but was will be. But the towns are actually quite so we've been to both I assume and I do you find. Yes but although you know I think one you have to go a little more buttoned up and the other one it's kind of like the more outrageous you looking that's true road yourself and add in a very skewed personality. The more you should fit in that way that's true I guess I don't subscribe to either pull in Ramallah. I don't with the Los angles on the model long term DCI. So being on the wrong and actually think that we should ask Al Franken in and that's the and Arnold Schwarzenegger those two guys we really know the big difference very very true yeah bill those kinds of allegiances you know in the private entertainment sector and then being able to serve publicly about their. He still keep in touch with the White House I do you know he a I'm privileged right now to serve on the president's arts committee presidential and in the arts and humanities and and I sort of help out you know. Wherever I can with some of the different projects until he went public president right now could you. Philip Hughes two picking should be too easy to take responsibility to me Martha when asked about that about the mid terms or were you surprised by the windfall with Republicans Gary you are you still very closely. Following the political landscape yeah I was following it you know it I. I don't know that I was surprised I was surprised that some of the turnout. You know I think particularly with young Americans historically it's actually gone up over the last ten years or so. Mid terms of course you'll receive historical low from anybody who books. I was not a surprise to see the losses though I think. I was surprised to see that a lot of Democrats were were up for election. Didn't do when Heidi. All they should do just the sort of double that level of the successes for the base the Democrats had some wildly successful programs and policies and bills that came to fruition. And I think it was a mistake for a lot of Democrats are shy away from that there are a lot of things to be proud of and in particular for young Americans. Who always do need to be reminded about things like okay helping the children is double what it was four years ago right what's the American opportunity tax credit you know but finally get this when 500 dollars and called attachment every here. Those are not particularly sexy things that you're gonna see on the news right in Iraq amid red they should be people or our our folks of other issues. But I do think it was a mistake the Democrats in capitalism and I think you're you're seeing the the results of that. Now. But I also think the president has an agenda you know he outlined yesterday. Fred a lot of common probably be content with Republicans immigration reform I think. It's still very much on the table would be a mistake for Republicans cannot meet him halfway ultimately that. Now I mean it's you want you know wanted to Idaho can honestly but I try to pass in the fact that you know you were part of the that the force that was behind the drive in the push to rally the youth vote. Was that a flash in the pan I don't think so you think that's so possible I think is very possible and I think that's evidenced by a you know certainly the president was while popular with with young people that was a big draw but. She doesn't have to doesn't -- member of both in the primaries in the general election. The media narrative was look at this polling its a gifts and young people are gonna vote. And the reason that part of that exists is that traditional polling usually relies on things like land lines more likely voters meaning you voted two or three times in the past. So we know that we can point Eunice who you voted for but if you just turned eighteen or if your twin one. You mean on a vote in you so we don't have a landline to really harder and harder to predict those folk but 2012 he saw an uptick in the youth vote over what was in 2008. I think in terms historically are lower but I don't think that's a question can certainly hope. Right well we'll do what awaits him with two years although Linus has a long ways away yet welcoming visiting before the mid terms right and over who was retirement doesn't sixteen. So in addition to that on your resume obviously the Harold and Kumar movies in the series is that he is something that you are. Forever linked to meet you didn't get a kick out of fact that everyone's like white castle. Yeah that's me it's you know I. I still. I think because I view them separately new UU you don't work in DC and still act so it was a sabbatical it departures and and loved it. I still can't believe that the parliament more movies took off the waiting it was a shock at the performer in the first one especially was shot for no money. We all thought it was hilarious making it but we knew we were incredibly biased and it tanked at the box office when a right not a lot of people forget that. It lasted two weeks made no money and then fans are the ones who discovered on dvd and they gave into each other and bought it and you know had watch parties and things that we never would have imagined so we love the fans of those movies and a big a new career almost a good grass root cult following yeah right. Maybe political parties actually a few Catholics and something like that yeah right but surprisingly. You're not a big fan white castle. I tend to non U a lot of fast food okay I actually like the company -- personal family owned the right you know based in Ohio they put us in the whole thing. They hit with very quirky quirky food following. Attended training you know this is console so cliche Hollywood to needle a little more organic and try to go to the gym and in public. And wreck. Let's get closer as we've had early nineteen fast and absolutely however whatever you know by the united god as there were knocking out there about that and I do and added that lasted for which ago. Again kind of did get him back and into the political arena for things. The legalization of marijuana use. Now now approved in organ Alaska Washington DC joining Colorado and Washington State what do you think I wish I was an expert as much as cool more would be if you're sitting here. One victory in previous strong advocate giants Phillies are. Look I think that's the trend I certainly personally have no problem with someone like that I I'm not a Stoner in real life I understand why. The political apparatus is so slow to responsive. To someone like decriminalization or legalization hopefully it catches up with the popular so it's been I think it is. Well right now it's called Bhopal prayer for rain helped and thank you so much for stop and I thank you appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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