In the hit stoner film “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” two college buddies are on a quest to satisfy a serious case of the munchies with White Castle burgers. It’s not the usual first job for a political player, but actor Kal Penn, who plays Kumar Patel in the film, somehow parlayed that experience into a very different role — first at the White House and now at the Democratic Convention.
Penn will address delegates and guests Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. EDT in Charlotte before First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage. He also has another gig Thursday at 8 p.m. hosting the live online coverage of the convention at BarackObama.com. So how did the actor’s journey to White Castle lead him to the White House, as associate director in the Office of Public Engagement, and now, to a speaker’s spot at the convention?
For starters, he goes by his real name in his political profession, KalpenModi – and his juggling of conflicting interests in politics and acting dates back to his youth. He went to University of California-Los Angeles in the mid-90s, where he majored in sociology and film, and landed supporting acting roles until his leading break as a fictional pothead.