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Kumar (Kal Penn) goes from Gitmo to the White House
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Kumar (Kal Penn) goes from Gitmo to the White House

Actor Kal Penn has formally started work at the White House, saying he is happy to take a break from Hollywood to serve in President Barack Obama’s administration.

“This is an incredibly historic time; I’m deeply honoured to be here and I hope to serve my country to the best of my ability,” the actor, whose given name is Kalpen Modi, told reporters on a conference call.

Penn revealed in early April that his character Dr Lawrence Kutner on the smash hit, House, MD committed suicide so that the actor could leave the show and take a job with the White House.

Penn said his first day in the White House Office of Public Engagement was like a lot of other people’s first days on the job, citing “a lot of paperwork”, introductory meetings and getting his email set up.

Asked what he did to prepare, the actor laughed and replied: “You’re going to be bored by this. I brushed my teeth, I did floss, used mouthwash, you know, took the bus to work, same thing as everybody does.”

Penn, who is of Gujarati Indian heritage, is the office’s point person for Americans in the arts and the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities.

He said those groups were “incredibly involved” in US politics, “especially this last election cycle” and underlined that they were “not just relegated to just ethnic politics”.

Penn said he had had “a lot of fun” making the Harold and Kumar movies, in which he plays a marijuana-addled slacker, but that he was taking “a sabbatical from acting”.

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Posted on: July 7, 2009

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