'Kumar' actor leaves White Castle for White House
Rachel Oswald
Published: Tuesday April 7, 2009

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Though his character was just killed off on 'House,' fans of Kal Penn can expect to see the actor-turned-government employee around --in his new job as a public liaison with President Obama's White House.

Penn, who did some campaign stumping for Obama in 2008, told Entertainment Weekly of his decision to voluntarily leave the show after he was offered a position under Obama Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett as an associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison.

"I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House," Penn revealed to EW. "I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there."

Penn explained his new job will consist of outreach efforts to the general public and various organizations.

"They're basically the front door of the White House," he said of the Office of Public Liaison. "They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It's similar to what I was doing on the campaign."

A White House spokesman confirmed to The Chicago Sun-Times that Penn will be working for the Obama administration.

Penn, who first rose to fame through turns in stoner comedies like "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," said he isn't giving up acting for good but that working for the Obama administration is something he really wants to do for now.

"I've been thinking about [moving into politics] for a while....From the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service," Penn said. "I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else. The ultimate irony, of course, is that I love being on "House'. There's not a smarter group of people that I've been surrounded by in television."

Penn played Dr. Lawrence Kutner in the fourth and fifth seasons of "House."

In one famous scene from "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," Penn's character gets stoned with President George W. Bush at his Texas home.

In light of his well-known roles as stoner Kumar, some news outlets are cracking jokes about Penn's appointment. Jokes Vanity Fair writer Bill Bradley, "While its unclear what the associate director of public liaison does, what is clear is that President Obama is getting weeded out, watching movies, and going, 'I want that guy.'

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