Strong writing is a major key for Raoul Bhaneja in picking projects.
“I don’t get too hung up on what the medium is,” he says. “For an interesting role, it always comes down to the writing.”
The actor can currently bee seen in the film, “Miss Sloane,” which opens Dec. 9.
He co-stars with Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alison Pill and John Lithgow.
The film pulls the curtain back on how Capitol Hill games are played — and won and tells the story of a brilliant and ruthless lobbyist, played by Chastain — who is notorious for her unparalleled talent and her desire to win, even at the risk of her own career.
Bhaneja plays R.M. Dutton, a brilliant and highly-regarded lobbyist, who will do anything to win, no matter the cost.
“It was an interesting role,” he says. “I knew a little bit about government. We had the opportunity to team up with a Washington (D.C.) lobbyist. We were able to talk to them and ask questions. If you are doing research for the project and have the opportunity to interact with those people who have done the job, you need to take the opportunity to learn from them.”
Bhaneja says lobbying has entered the conversation in a way that no one could have anticipated.
“The film shows the impact that lobbyists have on the system, both good and bad,” he says.
Working with an all-star cast was also a big draw for Bhaneja.
“Jessica is an incredibly skilled actress and my admiration for her grew through the process of working with her,” he says. “How she handles herself and her celebrity is amazing. She landed take after take. And working with this incredible ensemble of actors. John Lithgow, Sam Waterston, Mark Strong and Alison Pill. I had to pinch myself. Getting to be in this company was amazing and I’d like to be in this company more.”
Originally from Manchester, England, Bhaneja graduated from the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada and began his acting career in television as ‘Vijay’ in the massively popular cutting edge comedy series “The Newsroom” for the Canadian Broadcast Channel.
Shortly after, he landed his first starring role as ‘John The Baptist’ opposite Mary Walsh and Andy Jones in the feature film, “Extraordinary Visitor,” which premiered at the International Film Festival.
Bhaneja has starred in feature films ranging from art house dramas such as “Ararat” to Hollywood thrillers like “The Sentinel” to indie darlings such as “Touch of Pink.”
He’s also had regular and recurring stints on SyFy’s “The Dresden Files,” ABC’s “Rookie Blue,” the CW’s “Nikita,” and Syfy’s “Alphas.” On the stage, he has extensively toured his one man show Hamlet (solo), a one-man version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet directed by Robert Ross Parker, and his award nominated musical “Life, Death and The Blues.”
Additionally, he has premiered many original works and most recently produced and starred in the Toronto premiere of the Pulitzer Prize Winner Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, which broke box office records at The Panasonic Theatre.
If that wasn’t enough, 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.
Bhaneja is also a member of the band The Legendary Miles Johnson with Edmonton-based musician Graham Guest and has appeared as a guest artist on numerous recordings.
“For years, when I was starting out, I tried to quit one and do the other,” he says. “I realized that I wanted to do both for my personal happiness. To make a living with both of the is great. I go through phases where I play a little less music. But then I have a run like for 10 days, where I have three or four public performances. I’m pretty grateful for all of this.”
When he is not acting, producing or recording music, Bhaneja supports charities surrounding the theater, 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, Bhaneja’s passionate about the YMCA and plans to give back to organizations related to Doctors Without Borders.
“I find in order to stand out, you have to deliver something special to an audience,” he says. “We’re in a very different era and you have to keep yourself busy doing some good. I’m very fortunate that this career path has afforded me the opportunities to make a difference.”