Indian-American actor Kal Penn, who joined the Obama Administration in July last year, may be leaving the White House this summer to return to his Hollywood career and reprise his role as Kumar Patel in the third installment of the Harold & Kumar movies.
The 32-year-old Penn, known by his real name Kalpen Modi in the Administration, is currently Associate Director in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement.
The news of Penn leaving the White House was originally reported by Entertainment Weekly which based its report on comments from unidentified representatives of the actor.
However, the White House has yet to confirm Penn’s imminent departure. In response to a query, a White House spokesman said, “Mr Modi is honoured to serve in this Administration and has no announcements to make about his tenure here at this point.”
But one person close to Penn said, “He is leaving.”
Penn is likely to begin filming the next Harold & Kumar film, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, this summer, possibly late June. It will be directed by Todd Strauss Schulson.
Penn had starred with John Cho in the two previous films of this series — Harold & Kumar go to White Castle (2004) and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). He also starred in Mira Nair’s film, The Namesake.
Before Penn was to join the White House last year, the character he played on the popular television serial, House MD, was killed off.
During his tenure at the White House, Penn was instrumental in getting Diwali observed within the White House itself last year. As the South Asian Journalists’ Association noted at that time, “The Bush Administration traditionally celebrated Diwali in the Indian Treaty Room in the Old Executive Office Building, next to the main White House.” US President Barack Obama lit the diya to mark Diwali on that day.
Penn also attended the State Dinner hosted by the Obamas for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009.