Kal Penn quit his job on “House” to work in Washington, D.C. Now, he’s back on TV, so did he quit politics?
—Misty Johnson, Grand Island, Nebraska
When Kal Penn, 36, left “House” to work in Washington, D.C., his plan was to take a one-year sabbatical from acting. Instead, he ended up working at the White House for two years. But now that he’s back to acting, he hasn’t completely forsaken politics, and will still be active on behalf of issues in which he believes.
“All the things that I had been working on for the president had wrapped up,” he says. “I think a lot of people take breaks and go off to college, or have babies and come back.”
Penn says that his return to acting was given a boost by the fact that “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” the third film in the series, was released after his sabbatical had wrapped up, helping his re-entry into show business.
“When you take a sabbatical like that, you know that Hollywood has a short-term memory,” he says. “You hope that you will have the luxury of coming back, especially with how quickly it changes. I wasn’t naïve about it. I definitely knew I would have to jumpstart [my career]. I credit my amazing manager and agents with that.”
Penn’s first project back was a multi-episode arc on CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” which is how he met Rob Greenberg, the creator of his new series, “We are Men,” which also stars Tony Shalhoub and Jerry O’Connell as three divorced men, living in a short-term rental complex, who form a friendship.
“I am super excited to come back and do something like this,” the Montclair, New Jersey-born actor/activist says. “I feel ridiculously blessed to have had the chance to take a sabbatical that used the other part of my brain and then come back and do a show like this. It is hilarious, it is a little bit raunchy — as far as you can get away with on network TV — but it is also sweet. I felt the combination of all of those things [mean] it is not a one-note comedy, which I really liked.”