Anil Kapoor's got the best of both worlds

Anil Kapoor as he appears as President Omar Hassan in 24. (SUPPLIED)

Anil Kapoor has appeared in more than 100 Bollywood movies, but came to prominence on the international film circuit last year after starring in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

Now, Kapoor plays President Omar Hassan in the eighth and final season of 24, which can be seen in the UAE on Showseries. Here is what he had to say about the show.


Congratulations on joining the cast of 24. What's it like working with Kiefer Sutherland?

Working with Kiefer was a great experience. I really enjoyed it. A lot of fun, and more like a family. It's work, work, work. The entire work culture is vintage Hollywood on 24.

How is he after his recent health scare?

I'm sure he'll be fine.

Is it fun playing Omar Hassan?

Yeah, the whole way the [story] arc and the way it's developed is very exciting. I enjoy doing it, performing it, and it's very unpredictable, you know? It starts with him as a very noble president, very charismatic, and it's becoming very edgy and, you know, more like King Lear.

Do you know how things are going to turn out?

It's a secret. Top secret. [laughs]

Had you seen any of 24 before you landed the role?

Yeah, absolutely. It's huge in India, 24. People love it.

Do you think we can trust Omar?

I'm not going to say that. It depends on you. What you feel? Do you feel like trusting him?

Absolutely. Was he based on anyone?

When I first met the writers they said the role was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and [Nelson] Mandela. All these great leaders. Then I did a little bit of thinking and started working on the way I would do the role, and I just felt that he is young, he's liberal, he's charismatic. I went to a lot of speeches of all the leaders I could think of, President Obama and the Shah of Iran, the King of Jordan, Martin Luther King, you know? All these great leaders. I just went on YouTube and I kept on observing them, their body language and the way they speak. I thought quite about a few of the debates between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and I remember quite a few swearing-in ceremonies of all these presidents. Then I read a book, which was very, very helpful, about leaders who have the Nobel prize and their speeches, and after they win the Nobel Prize and during the ceremony.

Do you prefer working in Bollywood or Hollywood?

As an actor at the moment I'm finding the unknown more exciting. For me Hollywood is unknown because it's my second experience of doing an international job and it's the unknown territory, so I'm finding this much more exciting at the moment.

Tell us about Slumdog Millionaire. Did you have any idea how big it was going to be when you got the script?

None of us involved with the film really knew it was going to become so big, so huge.

Was your gameshow host, Prem Kapur, inspired by anyone in particular?

No, not at all. First of all it was very well written by Simon [Beaufoy] it made my job much easier, and then there was Danny [Boyle] directing it. You know when you have a phenomenal director and the writing's so good, it makes the job easier for the actor. And the book itself was also exciting.

How has your life changed since making that movie?

Obviously I'm doing 24 because of Slumdog, and it's changed completely because I'm juggling both worlds. I'm in India doing productions then I'm shooting in LA and travelling. I'm meeting people in London and Paris. I'm travelling all over the world and life's become much more exciting. In my one lifetime I feel like a newcomer, like I've just started my career.

You have at least 100 films under your belt…

Absolutely, and I know I've done a hundred films, but for me I feel like I've just done two films.

What has been your favourite role?

Quite a few of them have been my favourite, and now I have two productions I'm working on at the moment. One is based on [Jane Austen's] Emma, which is called Ayesha. I'm not acting in that, and there's another film I'm doing, No Problem. It's a no-brainer, an entertainer. Keep your brains at home, have popcorn. It's a comedy I'm doing and I wrap up the film in March. In the past I've done some good films; some great films; some films, which you want to forget, and some you want to remember. I've done all kinds of films, comedy, romance, action, fantasy. Everything. I've done everything.

Have you had a lot of offers from Hollywood to make blockbusters?

Absolutely, and I'm looking forward to not only acting in India and Hollywood, but making films also and trying to get both worlds together.

And no doubt you'd like to work with Danny Boyle again?

Oh, absolutely.

Finally, do you think the kids in Slumdog Millionaire will be forgotten now that it's a year after the movie's Oscar glory?

Ultimately it all depends on the individual in life. There are so many other people that have started from slums and have gone out into the world and become achievers, and if not achievers, they have led a happy life. You can take the horse to the well, but ultimately, it's up to the horse if he's going to drink the water or not, so where the children are concerned, they have been looked after and a lot of good has been done.


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