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How Kal Penn left Obama for 'How I Met Your Mother'

October 24, 2011 |  1:33 pm

Kal penn
Many actors talk politics and support causes, but not many of them trade in a successful Hollywood career to take on a mid-level job in the White House. But that's what Kal Penn — best known for his stoner role in "Harold & Kumar" movies — did. He spent two years at the White House, complete with a security clearance and the chance to brief the president.

Now Penn is back in Los Angeles, guest starring this fall in "How I Met Your Mother" as a shrink who falls for Robin (Cobie Smulders), developing a workplace comedy for NBC set at the UN and launching "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," filmed last year during a sabbatical from the White House.

Penn says his career choices baffled his Hollywood advisers and concerned his pals. "I got calls from friends of mine in L.A. saying, 'Dude, so the FBI just called me; do I need to be worried?'" 

For more on Penn's unusual career choices, read this Calendar profile.


From White Castle to the White House and back

Full Show Tracker coverage of "How I Met Your Mother"

Kal Penn tackles a new role at the White House

Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times