Kal Penn

Actor
Though he had a tough time breaking into Hollywood due to his ethnicity and non-Anglican given name, actor Kal Penn - originally Kalpen Suresh Modi - managed for the most part to avoid playing stereotypical characters ... Read more »
Born: 04/22/1977 in Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Filmography

Actor (46)

Battle Creek 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Actor

Mapology 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Host

The Sisterhood of Night 2015 (Movie)

Gordy Gambhir (Actor)

Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain 2014 (Movie)

Motwani (Actor)

CBS Fall Preview 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Host

Dancing in Twilight 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

How I Met Your Mother 2011 - 2012, 2014 (Tv Show)

Actor

Outliving Emily 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Real Time with Bill Maher 2014 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

Vegas Baby 2014 (Movie)

Z-Bob (Actor)

We Are Men 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood Game Night 2013 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Host

House 2004 - 2005, 2007 - 2009, 2012 (Tv Show)

Actor

A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas 2011 (Movie)

Kumar (Actor)

NYPD Blue 2000 - 2002, 2004 - 2005, 2008 - 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

Spin City 2000 - 2001, 2004 - 2005, 2008 - 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay 2008 (Movie)

Kumar Patel (Actor)

24 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Epic Movie 2007 (Movie)

Edward (Actor)

The Namesake 2007 (Movie)

Gogol (Actor)

Superman Returns 2006 (Movie)

Stanford (Actor)

A Lot Like Love 2005 (Movie)

Jeeter (Actor)

Man About Town 2005 (Movie)

Alan (Actor)

Six Feet Under 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

Son of the Mask 2005 (Movie)

Jorge (Actor)

Sueno 2005 (Movie)

(Actor)

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle 2004 (Movie)

Kumar Patel (Actor)

Jimmy Kimmel Live 2004 (Tv Show)

Guest

All About the Andersons 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Love Don't Cost a Thing 2003 (Movie)

Kenneth Warman (Actor)

Malibu's Most Wanted 2003 (Movie)

Hadji (Actor)

Tru Calling 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Where's the Party Yaar? 2003 (Movie)

Mohan (Actor)

National Lampoon's Van Wilder 2002 (Movie)

Taj Mahal Badalandabad (Actor)

American Desi 2001 (Movie)

Ajay Pandya (Actor)

Angel 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

ER 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Agency 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1999 (Tv Show)

Actor

American Made (TV Show)

Actor

Homeland Security (TV Show)

Actor

Under New Management (Movie)

(Actor)
Producer (1)

Under New Management (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Biography

Though he had a tough time breaking into Hollywood due to his ethnicity and non-Anglican given name, actor Kal Penn - originally Kalpen Suresh Modi - managed for the most part to avoid playing stereotypical characters and to become a fast-rising Hollywood star. After spending several years climbing the ladder with episodes of series television, Penn bit the bullet and played an Indian named Taj Mahal, complete with thick accent, in the lowbrow comedy "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" (2002). But he soon had his breakout role playing a stoned Ivy Leaguer in search of tiny delicious hamburgers in the cult hit ""Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" (2004), which spawned another popular sequel four years later. In between, Penn was seen in blockbusters like "Superman Returns" (2006) while demonstrating his range in the art house drama, "The Namesake" (2007). After playing a conflicted terrorist on the hit action series "24" (Fox, 2001- ) and a sports medicine specialist on "House" (Fox, 2004- ), Penn left acting altogether to work in President Barack Obama's administration, proving that his dedication to public service truly outweighed his dreams for Hollywood stardom.

EDUCATION

The Fine and Performing Arts Specialized Learning Center

Farmingdale , New Jersey
Studied acting, dance/movement and vocal training

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles , California
Founding member of an underground intellectual society

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles , California
Founding member of an underground intellectual society

Stanford University

Palo Alto , California
Pursuing a graduate certificate in international security

Milestones

2011

Returned to acting with a recurring guest appearance on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS)

2011

Reprised role of Kumar for third film "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas"

2009

Took a leave from acting and accepted a position as the associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs

2008

Reprised role of Kumar for the sequel "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"

2007

Played an American-born son of Indian immigrants in director Mira Nair's "The Namesake"

2007

Joined the cast of the Fox medical drama "House" as one of Dr. House's new fellowship applicants

2007

Co-starred in the spoof/parody film "Epic Movie"

2006

Appeared on four episodes of Fox's "24" as a teenage terrorist

2006

Reprised the role of Taj for "National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj"

2006

Cast as Lex Luthor's lackey in "Superman Returns"

2005

Cast opposite Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet in the romantic comedy "A Lot Like Love"

2004

Cast opposite John Cho, as two roomates whose overwhelming case of the munchies leads them on a wild search in "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"

2004

Starred in the 9/11 NBC drama "Homeland Security"

2003

Cast in the hit comedy "Malibu’s Most Wanted" with Jamie Kennedy

2003

Had a starring role in the independent film "Where’s the Party Yaar?"

2002

Breakthrough role as Taj opposite Ryan Reynolds in the comedy "National Lampoon’s Van Wilder"

2001

Had a supporting role in the Indian-American-themed romantic comedy "American Desi"

1999

Made feature debut in the culture-clash drama "Freshmen"

1998

Had a supporting role in HBO Films’ Emmy-Award winning comedy "Express: Aisle to Glory"

Bonus Trivia

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Kal Penn was invited to be a guest instructor at the University of Pennsylvania during the spring 2008 semester. Penn taught two undergraduate courses, "Images of Asian Americans in the Media" and "Contemporary American Teen Films."

.

"I find that when you define a character by ethnicity, you end up with a very boring story. So ultimately that can never really be the driving force behind a compelling character." – Penn to Interview magazine, April 2007

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In 2009, Penn took a job as as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison, with a focus on connecting President Obama with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as arts groups.

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Penn on taking a leave from acting to take a job with the White House: "I love what I do as an actor. I couldn't love it more. But probably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service. I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else." – quoted in Entertainment Weekly, April 7, 2009

.

On April 20, 2010, Penn was robbed at gunpoint in Washington, D.C. at 1:30 a.m. by an unidentified man who took his wallet and cell phone. Penn alerted White House authorities after the incident, while the U.S. Secret Service have reportedly joined the D.C. Metro Police Department to find the offender.

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