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Kal Penn (1977)

Kalpen Suresh Modi

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  Summary  

Kalpen Suresh Modi , best known by his stage name Kal Penn, is an American film and television actor, producer, and civil servant.

As an actor, he is known for his roles portraying the character Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the television program House and the character Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar comedy films. He is also recognized for his performance in the critically acclaimed film The Namesake. Penn has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting lecturer in the Cinema Studies Program.

On April 8, 2009, it was announced that Penn would join the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. This necessitated that his character Lawrence Kutner be written out of the TV series House. Penn resigned his post as Barack Obama's associate director of public engagement on June 1, 2010, for a brief return to his acting career. He filmed the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, then returned to the White House Office of Public Engagement as an Associate Director. In July 2011, he again left the White House, this time for a role in How I Met Your Mother, and then went back to his political duties.

  Biography  

 early life and education
Penn was born as Kalpen Suresh Modi in Montclair, New Jersey, the son of Asmita, a fragrance evaluator for a perfume company, and Suresh Modi, an engineer. Both of his parents are Gujarati immigrants from India. He has stated that stories of his grandparents marching with Mahatma Gandhi for Indian independence were a significant influence on his interest in politics.

He attended Marlboro Middle School in Marlboro Township, New Jersey and played baritone saxophone in the jazz band there. Penn attended The Fine and Performing Arts Academy at Howell High School for freshman, sophomore, and junior years; he transferred to Freehold Township High School for senior year; both schools are part of the Freehold Regional High School District. He was active in the schools' theater productions and competed on the Freehold Township forensics team. He attended UCLA, where he double majored in film and sociology.

 acting career
Penn's feature film debut came in 1998 in Express: Aisle to Glory. He has since appeared in American Desi, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, Malibu's Most Wanted, A Lot Like Love, Dude, Where's the Party?, Love Don't Cost a Thing, Superman Returns, National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, Epic Movie, The Namesake, the Harold and Kumar series, and an uncredited appearance in Deck the Halls. Penn was featured in The Lonely Island's rejected comedy pilot, Awesometown.

Penn says that he derived his acting name, Kal Penn, as a lark: "Almost as a joke to prove friends wrong, and half as an attempt to see if what I was told would work (that anglicized names appeal more to a white-dominated industry), I put 'Kal Penn' on my resume and photos." His audition callbacks rose by 50 percent. He has stated that he prefers his birth name and uses "Kal Penn" only for professional purposes.

In January 2007, Penn appeared in the first four episodes of the sixth season of 24 as Ahmed Amar, a teenage terrorist. Penn says he nearly turned down the role due to personal ethics, stating, "I have a huge political problem with the role. It was essentially accepting a form of racial profiling. I think it’s repulsive. But it was the first time I had a chance to blow stuff up and take a family hostage. As an actor, why shouldn’t I have that opportunity? Because I'm brown and I should be scared about the connection between media images and people's thought processes?"

Also in January 2007, he appeared in the spoof comedy Epic Movie as well as the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In May 2007, Penn received the Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Actor for his performance in The Namesake.

In fall 2007, Penn joined the cast of the Fox medical drama House as a fellowship applicant. E! reported that Penn had signed on as a regular on the show along with Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson and this was confirmed in the plot of the episode "Games". Penn continued with the series through to the episode "Simple Explanation", which aired April 6, 2009. He made an additional appearance as Lawrence Kutner on the fifth season finale, "Both Sides Now", that aired on May 11, 2009. However, due to his new job at the White House, Penn could not be present for the filming of this episode. The clip of him saying "Too bad it isn't true" was taken from a previous filming.

Beside his role on the T.V. series House, he is best known from his role in Harold & Kumar, Kumar Patel, a cannabis smoker who goes with Harold Lee to White Castle for a hamburger. Unlike his character, he does not smoke marijuana, claiming it is not for him.

On July 13, 2011, it was announced on Facebook that Penn would be joining the cast of How I Met Your Mother for the seventh season of the show.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Кэл Пенн", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.