By Matthew B. Zeidman
HOLLYWOOD, CA (RPRN/HT) 4/8/09 â€“ Kal Penn has taken a break from acting to give back to the public as part of the Obama administration. Penn was a lead actor on Fox drama “House” and had also appeared as a villain on the network’s weekly drama/thriller, “24”.
Kal Penn may have willingly left Fox drama â€œHouseâ€ to pursue another project, but itâ€™s wasnâ€™t for another acting gig. Penn, best known for his comedic stylings in big-screen features, such as â€œEpic Movie,â€ â€œHarold & Kumar Go to White Castleâ€ and â€œNational Lampoonâ€™s Van Wilder,â€ has been offered a position with the Obama administration.
â€œâ€¦Iâ€™m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison,â€ Penn told Entertainment Weekly, explaining he had expressed interest in joining Barack Obamaâ€™s staff while he worked on the nascent presidentâ€™s election campaign. â€œThey do outreach with the American public and with different organizationsâ€¦They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House.â€
The 31-year-old Penn, whose real name is Kalpen Suresh Modi, has appeared on â€œHouseâ€ for the past two seasons as Dr. Lawrence Kutner, a diagnostic specialist working under actor Hugh Laurieâ€™s caustic Dr. Gregory House.
On Mondayâ€™s episode, Kutner was found dead by his own hand by two of his colleagues, played by Omar Epps and Olivia Wilde. Fox posted a mock obituary and memorial video at the official Fox Web site and displayed the URL for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) at the end of the primetime broadcast.
â€œThereâ€™s not a lot of financial reward in these jobs. But, obviously, the opportunity to serve in a capacity like this is an incredible honor,â€ Penn told the magazine. â€œâ€¦from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service.â€
Penn also told Entertainment Weekly he still had a passion for acting and wouldnâ€™t rule out returning to Hollywood one day. When asked if he expected to stay on for as long as Obama remained in office, the New Jersey native was unsure.
Pennâ€™s last planned film, â€œBhopal: Prayer for Rain,â€ is tentatively scheduled for release later this year. The movie will dramatize the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal, India and will co-star Mischa Barton and Martin Sheen.