Kal Penn (born Kalpen Suresh Modi; April 23, 1977) is an American actor, producer, and civil servant.
As an actor, he is known for his roles portraying the character Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the television program House and the character Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar comedy films. He is also recognized for his performance in the critically acclaimed film The Namesake. Penn has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting lecturer in the Cinema Studies Program.
On April 8, 2009, it was announced that Penn would join the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. This necessitated that his character Lawrence Kutner be written out of the TV series House. Penn resigned his post as Barack Obama's associate director of public engagement on June 1, 2010, for a brief return to his acting career. He filmed the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, then returned to the White House Office of Public Engagement as an Associate Director. In July 2011, he again left the White House, this time for a role in How I Met Your Mother, and then went back to his political duties.