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Kal Penn leaves White House for HIMYM

tv Updated: Jul 21, 2011 17:59 IST

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The actor who became famous for Harold and Kumar and House - and then a little more famous for leaving House to become a bureaucrat - will wrap up his job with the Obama administration this month, a White House official says.

He's going back to TV, for a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother. In that role, as first reported by TVLine.com Wednesday night, he'll play a love interest for Robin, played by Cobie Smulders.

Penn first joined the White House in July 2009 as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement. "We deeply appreciate his service, said Shin Inouye, an administration spokesman, and wish him the best in his future endeavors".

But is this actually the end of his political career? Just last year, Penn looked like a short-timer when he left the White House after only 11 months to shoot A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas - only to cycle back to his mid-level $41,000 job a few months later when filming wrapped. Penn's rep didn't get back to us with any inkling about his future.

His unusual career path points to a little-known truth about showbiz: That even big-name actors have a lot of downtime between projects. It's part of the reason you see many stars throwing themselves into campaign or celebvocacy work - though we're hard-pressed to think of any others who took major pay cuts for public-sector gigs.

The actor has kept a moderately low-profile in Washington, using his birth name Kalpen Modi in his government work and passing up interviews. On Wednesday, he hosted a session at the White House with young business owners promoting a Buy Young initiative.