Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$15 million dollars
Date Of BirthApril 23, 1977
FactClose friends with Olivia Wilde.

Kal Penn was born in Montclair, New Jersey on April 23, 1977. His parents are Asmita and Suresh Modi, both of whom are Gujarati immigrants from India. He has one older brother, Sunil. Penn attended Marlboro Middle School in Marlboro Township, New Jersey, and graduated from Freehold Borough High School in 1995. He then went on to study at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he double majored in film and sociology.

Penn’s first acting role was in the 1998 film Express: Aisle to Glory. He has since appeared in numerous films and television shows, including the Harold & Kumar franchise, House, 24, and How I Met Your Mother. Penn has also done voice work for the animated series Kim Possible and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

In 2009, Penn left his acting career to serve as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Barack Obama. He returned to acting in 2011, and has since appeared in the films The Namesake, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, and The Big Sick.

Penn is married to former Miss India USA 2006, Mira Rajput. They have two children together: a daughter named Mira and a son named Leo.

Penn’s net worth is estimated to be $30 million. His salary is not publicly known, but his earnings from the Harold & Kumar films alone total to $5 million.

General Info

Full NameKal Penn
Net Worth$15 million dollars
Date Of BirthApril 23, 1977
Height1.78 m
ProfessionFilm producer, Actor, Public servant
EducationFreehold Township High School, University of California, Los Angeles, Marlboro Middle School, Howell High School, Stanford University


ParentsAsmita Modi, Suresh Modi
SiblingsPulin Modi


NominationsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo, MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Sequence, Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Rockstar Moment
MoviesHarold and Kumar Go to White Castle, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, The Namesake, Epic Movie, Superman Returns, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, The Girl In The Photographs, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, American Desi, Son of the Mask, Bhopal: A Prayer fo...
TV ShowsBattle Creek, We Are Men, The Big Brain Theory, House, All About the Andersons, Designated Survivor, Independent Lens

Social profile links


1[in "New York" Magazine, discussing the dissimilarity between his real life and the "Kumar" character] I don't smoke weed. That's not something that I generally offer up in terms of talking points about the movie, because there are a lot of stoners that like the movie and you never want to make them feel like something's disingenuous. But for me, it was always a buddy comedy or, you know, if it was a stoner movie, it was probably equal parts a hamburger movie.
2(2005) My friend and I will drive down to Tijuana just for lunch -- it's a 2 1/2-hour drive if you leave early. We go over the border and get these great tacos. There's no sign on the place, so we don't even know the name of it. Behind the shops where all the tourists go, there are these two alleys, and it's there. Half of the appeal, honestly, is that we're going to Mexico for tacos. We're here in Southern California and it's so close to another country, it's awesome that we can just go down there for lunch.
3[in New York Magazine, commenting about his recurring role as a terrorist on TV's 24 (2001)] I have a huge political problem with the role. It was essentially accepting a form of racial profiling. I think it's repulsive. But it was the first time I had a chance to blow stuff up and take a family hostage. As an actor, why shouldn't I have that opportunity? Because I'm brown and I should be scared about the connection between media images and people's thought processes?


1Kal Penn has both worked as a real-life White House staffer (as Associate Director of the Obama administration's White House Office of Public Engagement) and played one on TV (as Seth in the TV series Designated Survivor).
2L.A. [October 2002]
3Currently teaches a course at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. The course is entitled "Asian-Americans in the Media". [January 2008]
4With Rachael Leigh Cook, he appeared at Keene State College; Keene, New Hampshire, on November 3rd to campaign for Barack Obama. [November 2008]
5Played saxophone in his school's marching band.
6Is best friends with 'John Cho', Ryan Reynolds and Neil Patrick Harris.
7(Late April 2010) Was robbed at gunpoint at 1:20 a.m. in Washington D.C. His wallet and other belongings were stolen.
8He was a member of the Freehold Township High School Forensics Speech & Debate Team. His lucky shirt is the team shirt which depicts the "Fighting Opi".
9Close friends with Olivia Wilde.
10The brother of one of Peta 2's senior coordinator Pulin Modi.
11Kal Penn was invited for an audition for the role of "Gogol Ganguly" in the movie The Namesake (2006), because director Mira Nair's son, Zohan, and her agent's son, Sam, were big fans of Kal Penn's earlier movie - Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004).
12Accepted a position as the associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs [April 7, 2009].
13In April 2009, Penn told Entertainment Weekly Magazine that the writers killed off his character on House M.D. (2004) because he had asked to be allowed to leave the show to go work for the Barack Obama Administration as the Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Liaison.
14Is in the process of earning a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University.
15During the Spring 2008 semester, he was an adjunct faculty member in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania (familiarly called "Penn") in Philadelphia. He taught a lecture course, "Images of Asian Americans in the Media," and a seminar, "Contemporary American Teen Films," both of which were cross-listed in the Cinema Studies department. His faculty listing on the Asian American Studies Program website gave his name as Kalpen Modi (his real name) first, with his stage name, Kal Penn, in parentheses.
16Studied acting under the same teacher (Reynold Forman) as Anthony Bradford.
17His favorite book is "The Namesake" and used to check into hotels under the pseudonym of "Gogol Ganguli", the lead character of the book. When found out that Mira Nair was making a film out of it, despite her having already cast an actor in the part, Penn lobbied for the role and eventually won it.
18Was offered a part in "Planet Terror," the Robert Rodriguez segment of Grindhouse (2007), but turned it down due to the conflicting shoot of The Namesake (2006).
19Began using the name Kal Penn, a variation on his first name Kalpen, to get more roles; he believed that his difficult foreign name would scare away potential employers.
20Attended UCLA.
21Lives in same Los Angeles apartment building as director Christian Levatino.
22Although he attended Howell High School's performing arts program, he later transferred to Freehold Township (NJ) High School, where he graduated in 1995.
23Is of Gujarati Indian descent.
24When he was in 8th grade he was in a school production of the musical "The Wiz".
25His father is an engineer and his mother, who has a master's in chemistry, worked as a fragrance evaluator for a perfume company.
26Has one younger brother.
27Met future Where's the Party Yaar? (2003) co-star Datta Dave and Dave's current financial adviser Mihir Upadhyaya during college at UCLA. He assisted Dave in his pursuit of an acting career.
28Is a vegetarian, contrary to the role that he plays in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004).
29Once directed Jason Allentoff in a short film for a college project.
30He attended the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Howell High School in Farmingdale, New Jersey where he went though an intense study of the arts in acting, dance/movement, and vocal training.
31He and the other students were banned from using the word "like" in his acting classes, this was to make them sound more intelligent during auditions.
32Born in New Jersey, now resides in L.A.




Speech & Debate2017post-productionJames
Once Upon a Time in Venice2017post-production
The Ashram2016post-productionNitin
The Layover2016/Ipost-productionAnuj
Designated Survivor2016-2017TV SeriesSeth Wright
Better Off Single2016Brice
New Girl2016TV SeriesTripp
Deadbeat2016TV SeriesClyde
Mack & Moxy2016TV SeriesAdmirable Kal
The Girl in the Photographs2015Peter Hemmings
Emily & Tim2015Tim (Segment 2)
Battle Creek2015TV SeriesFontanelle White
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain2014Motwani
The Sisterhood of Night2014Gordy Gambhir
How I Met Your Mother2011-2014TV SeriesKevin
We Are Men2013TV SeriesGil Bartis / Gil Brooks / Gil
Dementamania2013Christian Van Burden
House M.D.2007-2012TV SeriesDr. Lawrence Kutner
Prairie Dogs2012TV MovieNeil
The Daily Show2011TV SeriesKumar
Lowe's CEO Responds to the All-American Muslim Controversy2011ShortAssistant
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas2011Kumar
Harold & Kumar's Yuletide Jamz2011Short
Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam2008Video shortKumar
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay2008Kumar
Two Sisters2008TV Movie
The Call2007TV MovieIan
Epic Movie2007Edward
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit2007TV SeriesHenry Chanoor
242007TV SeriesAhmed Amar
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj2006Taj
Deck the Halls2006Amit Sayid - Satellite Computer Tech (uncredited)
The Namesake2006Gogol / Nikhil
Superman Returns2006Stanford
The Danny Comden Project2006TV MovieMax
Bachelor Party Vegas2006VideoZ-Bob
Man About Town2006Alan Fineberg
Dancing in Twilight2005Sam
A Lot Like Love2005Jeeter
Son of the Mask2005Jorge
Awesometown2005TV ShortGuy Reading Newspaper
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle2004Kumar Patel
Ball & Chain2004Bobby
Homeland Security2004TV MovieHarrison
American Made2003Short
Love Don't Cost a Thing2003Kenneth Warman
Tru Calling2003TV SeriesSteven
Cosmopolitan2003TV MovieVandana's Fiancee
All About the Andersons2003TV SeriesDoctor George
Malibu's Most Wanted2003Hadji Amerislani
Where's the Party Yaar?2003Mo (Mohan Bakshi)
Regarding Ardy2003TV MovieFred
Hector2002ShortKendal Cunningham
Van Wilder2002Taj Mahal Badalandabad
The Agency2001TV SeriesMalek
NYPD Blue2001TV SeriesSolomon Al-Ramai
ER2001TV SeriesNarajan
Angel2001TV SeriesYoung Man in Fez
American Desi2001Ajay Pandya
Spin City2000TV SeriesBuddy
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch2000TV SeriesPrajeeb
Brookfield1999TV MovieKumar Zimmerman (Series Regular)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer1999TV SeriesHunt
Express: Aisle to Glory1998ShortJackie Newton


Vice News2015TV Series documentary producer - 1 episode
The Big Picture with Kal Penn2015TV Mini-Series documentary producer - 6 episodes
The Big Brain Theory2013TV Series producer - 8 episodes
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj2006executive producer
Hector2002Short associate producer


Designated Survivor2016TV Series consultant - 10 episodes
Vice News2015TV Series documentary host - 1 episode
The Big Picture with Kal Penn2015TV Mini-Series documentary host
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle2004production assistant: second unit, New Jersey - as Kalpen Modi


How I Met Your Mother2012TV Series performer - 1 episode
Regarding Ardy2003TV Movie performer: "Tiny Dancer"


To Tell the Truth2017TV SeriesHimself - Panelist
Masterchef2017TV SeriesHimself
Live with Kelly and Michael2016TV SeriesHimself
20/202016TV Series documentaryHimself
The Daily Show2016TV SeriesHimself
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert2016TV SeriesHimself
Match Game2016TV SeriesHimself - Celebrity Panelist
Join or Die with Craig Ferguson2016TV SeriesHimself - Special Guest
Superhuman2016TV SpecialHimself - Host
The Soup2015TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Big Picture with Kal Penn2015TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself - Host / Himself
Today2015TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore2015TV SeriesHimself - Panelist
Last Call with Carson Daly2013-2015TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson2007-2015TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Real Time with Bill Maher2014TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Dish Nation2014TV Series
Next Time on Lonny2014TV SeriesHimself
The Queen Latifah Show2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Hollywood Game Night2013TV SeriesHimself - Panelist
The Hour2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Big Brain Theory2013TV SeriesHimself - Host
CBS This Morning2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Larry King Now2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
CBS This Morning: Saturday2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Watch What Happens: Live2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon2011-2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Nikki & Sara Live2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Future with Emily Heller2013Video shortHimself
Top Gear USA2012TV Series documentaryHimself
Up Close with Carrie Keagan2008-2011TV SeriesHimself - Guest
1st Look2011TV SeriesHimself - Interviewee
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno2004-2011TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Scream Awards 20112011TV SpecialHimself
The Download with Jordan Rubin2011TV Mini-SeriesHimself - Guest
10 Minutes2010ShortHimself
We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial2009TV SpecialHimself
House, M.D., Season Four: New Beginnings2008Video documentary shortKutner - Dr Lawrence
Spike Guys Choice2008TV MovieHimself - Host
Late Night with Conan O'Brien2008TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Larry King Live2008TV SeriesHimself - Guest
2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards2007TV SpecialHimself
In Bed with Carrie2007TV SeriesHimself
Fuse Celebrity Playlist2006TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Requiem for Krypton: Making 'Superman Returns'2006Video documentaryHimself (uncredited)
The Young Hollywood Awards2006TV SpecialHimself
Back in Blue: The 'Superman Returns' Movie Special2006TV Movie documentaryHimself
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List2005TV SeriesHimself
HBO First Look2005TV Series documentaryHimself
I Love the '90s: Part Deux2005TV Series documentaryHimself
John Cho & Kal Penn: The Backseat Interview2005Video shortHimself
Howard Stern2004TV SeriesHimself
G-Phoria 20042004TV Movie documentaryHimself - Presenter
Jimmy Kimmel Live!2004TV SeriesHimself - Guest
2004 MTV Movie Awards2004TV SpecialHimself
Independent Lens2003-2004TV Series documentaryVandana's Fiancee / Jagdesh
The Making of 'Love Don't Cost a Thing'2004Video documentary shortHimself

Archive Footage

Late Night with Seth Meyers2015TV SeriesHimself - Heads Up America PSA


Nominated Awards

2009ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesHouse M.D. (2004)
2005MTV Movie AwardMTV Movie AwardsBest On-Screen TeamHarold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
2005MTV Movie AwardMTV Movie AwardsBest Musical PerformanceHarold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
2005Teen Choice AwardTeen Choice AwardsChoice Movie Rockstar MomentHarold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
2005Stinker AwardThe Stinkers Bad Movie AwardsMost Annoying Fake Accent: MaleSon of the Mask (2005)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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