8 Apr 2009
"House" viewers may not have been expecting Kal Penn's abrupt exit from the show Monday night, but even more surprising is where he's headed: the White House. According to reports, the former Harold & Kumar star has accepted a position as the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. I guess Barack Obama appreciated his Bush spoof in Harold & Kumar 2, or maybe he was just impressed by Penn's experience with Guantanamo Bay.
Essentially an extension of his efforts during Obama's presidential campaign, Kal will be doing outreach work with the public and various organizations. Says Penn, "[The office is] basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House."
Variety points out that, unlike other actors who've merely taken positions on special commissions, Penn will be "entering and exiting the Executive Office building every day for nitty gritty, day-to-day work marked by long hours."
For his part, Penn doesn't mind the fact that it's a "real job" (and a substantial pay cut) saying, "I've been thinking about [moving into politics] for a while. I love what I do as an actor. I couldn't love it more. But probably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service... I am not packing up and saying, 'I am leaving Hollywood' and all this stuff. It is just pursuing another passion right now. We'll see for how long and under what circumstances."
Hey, I'm just glad he didn't say he was leaving to become a rapper.