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Kal Penn Leaves White House: 'Harold & Kumar' Actor Leaves Washington For Hollywood

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KAL PENN
US president-elect Barack Obama (L) talks with actor Kal Penn (R) at the end of the 'We Are One' concert, one of the events of Obama's inauguration celebrations, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on January 18, 2009. | Getty

Kal Penn, the actor who in 2009 left his role on the TV show "House" to work for the Obama administration, has left his job at the White House and will be returning to Hollywood, ABC News reports.

Penn, whose given name is Kalpen Modi (he went by the latter while working at the White House), served in the Office of Public Engagement as the the Liaison to Young Americans, the Arts, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

But he is probably better known as Kumar Patel, the White Castle-loving stoner in the "Harold & Kumar" series, a new one of which is scheduled to be released in November.

TVLine.com reported earlier this month that Penn would also be joining the cast of "How I Met Your Mother."

He described his job at the White House to ABC's Jake Tapper in an interview on Thursday, video of which is available below:

"Our office doesn't handle policy, but we help kind of bridge the gaps between policies," he said to Tapper. "So if there's a group of young folks that are particularly concerned about an issue, and they want to bring in 10 or 12 folks, we'll put them in a room with some of our policy team and kind of link up that way."

He told ABC News that it was always his intention to work for the White House for two years. He began working in the Office of Public Engagement in July 2009, according to The Washington Post.

Earlier this month, he moderated a "How To Make Change" discussion with an official from the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he took questions from Facebook, Twitter and a live audience. The White House billed the event as a discussion about "how young people can take the lead alleviating poverty and improving the health and well-being of people around the world."

Penn first became involved with the Obama campaign as a volunteer in 2007. He said on the "Today" show in 2009 that his grandparents were active in the Indian independence movement and that he grew up hearing stories from them about marching with Gandhi.

This isn't the first time Penn has quit working at the White House to return to acting. He resigned in June 2010 to film "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," only to return to government work in November.

"We deeply appreciate his service," Shin Inouye, a spokesman for the Obama administration said to The Washington Post earlier this month, "and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Don't count out Penn for too long, though. TVline.com reports that Penn may be returning to help President Obama campaign in 2012.

In April 2009, Penn was mugged in at gunpoint in Washington, DC. His mugger received a prison sentence this month of more than three years.

Penn has blogged for The Huffington Post.

WATCH: ABC's Jake Tapper sits down with Kal Penn.

Around the Web

Kal Penn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kal Penn - IMDb

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