Kal Penn

Kal Penn

Highest Rated: 89% The Problem with Apu (2017)

Lowest Rated: 0% The Layover (2017)

Birthday: Apr 23, 1977

Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Kal Penn qualifies as one of the very few Indian-American actors of Gujarati heritage working in Hollywood. He was born Kalpen Suresh Modi on April 23, 1977, in Montclair, NJ, to an engineer father and a mother employed as a fragrance sampler for a perfume manufacturer. Modi bravely and intelligently cut against the grain of social expectations as a child, rejecting the prompting of his peers to join the soccer team, and instead joining the school drama team. Though allegedly mocked by classmates for his decision, Penn changed everyone's mind with his performance in a school production of The Wiz, and received a standing ovation for his work in that production -- no mean accomplishment for a beginner. During elementary school and junior high, Modi felt struck, again and again, by the crass Indian stereotypes perpetuated in Hollywood films, specifically in movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and 1986's Short Circuit, in which Caucasian actor Fisher Stevens plays the Indian-American Ben Jabituya for comic relief. Quietly vowing to work against this trend, Modi actually spent years attaining the box-office clout to make it happen. After his secondary school education (first at New Jersey's Howell High, then at Freehold Township High), Modi trained intensely as a dramatist on the Manhattan theatrical circuit, then attended UCLA as a drama major in the mid-'90s, and simultaneously started to land television parts right and left, in such series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Spin City. At about that time, he took the advice of friends and family, and -- though initially reluctant to do so -- anglicized his name, changing it to Kal Penn. As a result, he later reported, job offers escalated by 50 percent.Penn made his feature debut coming in the 1999 culture-clash drama Freshmen. A supporting role in the independent romantic comedy American Desi (2001) quickly followed -- ironically, an exploration of race and identity, about an Indian-American boy, Krishna (Deep Katdare), who moves away from home and changes his name to Kris to disguise his ethnicity, but finds himself saddled with several roommates of like heritage. Penn plays Ajay, an Indian student who has immersed himself in black ("Afrocentric") behavior. The film received extremely limited U.S. theatrical bookings in the spring of 2001 and fair reviews from the critics who saw it. Penn then jointed the cast of the Animal House-cloned gross-out farce National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002), about a seventh-year senior (Ryan Reynolds) threatened by his father's (Tim Matheson) decision to cut off his seemingly unlimited allowance. Widely drubbed as unfunny, the picture did embarrassing box office and opened and closed in one month, but its A-list issue nonetheless gave Penn (who plays Van's Indian friend, Taj Mahal Badalandabad) with his highest-profile exposure to date. Penn's onscreen activity escalated meteorically from 2003 through 2006, with the young actor averaging around seven or eight first-run features per year, and ascending to higher and higher credit billings. Most notably, he co-starred as Kumar (alongside fellow Gen-Xer John Cho) in 2004's stoner comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, a surprise sleeper hit (and recipient of many enthusiastic notices) about two buddies, an Asian-American banker and an Indian-American medical student, whose unstoppable quest to find some White Castle hamburgers gives way to an epic road trip. Penn also delivered a brief supporting turn as Stanford, a henchman of Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) in 2006's Superman Returns. Meanwhile, Penn made an indelible impression on the small screen as well, as Harrison in the 2004 NBC 9/11 NBC drama Homeland Security. Penn was less effective in the ill-advised 2006 sequel National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, an installment that -- per its title -- finds Penn's Taj Mahal Badalandabad carrying Van's off-the-wall hijinks to Camden University


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet The Ashram Actor 2018
0% The Layover Anuj 2017
19% Once Upon a Time in Venice Actor 2017
55% Speech & Debate James 2017
89% The Problem with Apu Actor 2017
No Score Yet Better Off Single Brice 2016
No Score Yet Emily & Tim Actor 2016
18% The Girl In The Photographs Peter Hemmings 2016
80% The Sisterhood Of Night Gordy Gambhir 2015
71% Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain Actor $12.6K 2014
No Score Yet Dementamania Actor 2013
68% A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas Kumar $34.5M 2011
No Score Yet Under New Management Actor 2009
52% Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Kumar Patel $38.1M 2008
2% Epic Movie Edward $39.7M 2007
7% Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj (Van Wilder 2) Taj Mahal Badalandabad Executive Producer $4.4M 2006
86% The Namesake Gogol Ganguli $13.5M 2006
75% Superman Returns Stanford $200.2M 2006
No Score Yet Bachelor Party Vegas Z-Bob 2006
38% Man About Town Alan Fineberg 2006
43% Sueño Actor 2005
41% A Lot Like Love Jeeter $21.9M 2005
6% Son of the Mask Jorge $17M 2005
No Score Yet Dancing in Twilight Sam 2005
74% Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Kumar $18.3M 2004
No Score Yet Ball & Chain Bobby 2004
No Score Yet Homeland Security Harrison 2004
13% Love Don't Cost a Thing Kenneth $21.8M 2003
31% Malibu's Most Wanted Hadji $34.4M 2003
69% Dude, Where's the Party? Mohan Bakshi $49.3K 2003
No Score Yet Freshmen Actor 2002
18% National Lampoon's Van Wilder Taj Mahal Badalandabad $21.1M 2002
38% American Desi Ajay Pandya $0.7M 2001


90% A Little Late With Lilly Singh
Guest 2019
No Score Yet Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Appearing 2019
38% Sunnyside
Screenwriter Executive Producer 2019
81% The Big Bang Theory
Dr. Campbell 2019
No Score Yet The Kelly Clarkson Show
Appearing 2019
50% This Giant Beast That is the Global Economy
Host 2019
No Score Yet Late Night With Seth Meyers
Guest 2019
No Score Yet The $100,000 Pyramid
Appearing 2019
71% Designated Survivor
Seth Wheeler Seth Wright 2019
No Score Yet Match Game
Panelist 2019
No Score Yet The Late Late Show With James Corden
Guest 2019
No Score Yet Hollywood Game Night
Guest Appearing 2019
No Score Yet To Tell the Truth
Panelist 2018
No Score Yet Jimmy Kimmel Live
Guest 2017
No Score Yet Superhuman
Host 2017
No Score Yet The F Word With Gordon Ramsay
Guest 2017
94% New Girl
Tripp 2016
No Score Yet The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Guest 2016
No Score Yet Deadbeat
Clyde 2016
96% Battle Creek
Det. Fontanelle White Fontanelle White 2015
No Score Yet The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson
Guest 2015
100% The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore
Panelist 2015
No Score Yet Real Time with Bill Maher
Guest 2014
No Score Yet Last Call With Carson Daly
Guest 2013
No Score Yet Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Guest 2013
No Score Yet Nikki & Sara Live
Guest 2013
4% We Are Men
Gil 2013
No Score Yet CBS This Morning
Guest 2013
No Score Yet The Talk
Guest 2013
83% How I Met Your Mother
Kevin 2012
No Score Yet The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
Guest 2011
91% House
Lawrence Cutner Dr. Lawrence Kutner 2009
86% 24
Ahmet Amar Ahmed Amar 2007
No Score Yet Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Henry 2007
42% Tru Calling
Steven 2003
88% Angel
Young Man in Fez 2001
No Score Yet ER
Naraian 2001
84% NYPD Blue
Solomon Al-Ramai 2001
81% Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Hunt 1999


Harold says: We're so high right now!

Kumar says: We're not low!

Kumar says: Yeah douche.

Hadji says: Is that a freaking musket?

Hadji says: What are you supposed to be? Robo-bitch?

Kumar says: (Holds up middle finger) Thank you, come again!

Kumar says: Thank you, come again!

Kumar says: Remember that time when we got really stoned and started throwing shit off of that bridge to see if it would float?

Harold says: Dude, what are you doing?!

Kumar says: Getting "not-low", what do you think?

Kumar says: Getting 'not-low', what do you think?

Kumar says: dude this is weed.

Kumar says: Dude this is weed.

George W. Bush says: thats alabama kush, thats one of the finest.

George W. Bush says: That's alabama kush, thats one of the finest.

Kumar says: so you get high then you put other people who smoke weed in jail.

Kumar says: So you get high then you put other people who smoke weed in jail.

George W. Bush says: duh.

George W. Bush says: Duh.

Kumar says: thats so hypocritical.

Kumar says: That's so hypocritical.

George W. Bush says: oh yeah well let me ask you something kumar, you like giving hand jobs.

George W. Bush says: Oh yeah well let me ask you something kumar, you like giving hand jobs.

Kumar says: no sir.

Kumar says: No sir.

George W. Bush says: you like getting hand jobs.

George W. Bush says: You like getting hand jobs.

Kumar says: yeah.

Kumar says: Yeah.

George W. Bush says: well that makes you a fuckin hypacriticizer to, so shut the fuck up and smoke my weed.

George W. Bush says: Well that makes you a fuckin hypacriticizer to, so shut the fuck up and smoke my weed.

Kumar says: you're not gay motherfucker.

Kumar says: You're not gay, motherfucker!

Edward says: A chocolate river! Mmm! Mmm! Chocolate! Hahahaha!

Willy says: That's actually the sewer line.

Taj Mahal Badalandabad says: Penn is gud...needs nice scripts to show his talent..

Harold says: Did Doogie Howser just steal my fucking car?

Kumar says: Yes! I think he did.

Kumar says: you fucking pissed on me you racist fuck

Kumar says: You fucking pissed on me you racist fuck!

Kumar says: Hey, Wafflebot. They think that pancakes are better than waffles.

Kumar says: Hey, Wafflebot. They think that pancakes are better than waffles.

Waffleboat Kid says: Wafflebot: They serve pancakes in hell......

Waffleboat Kid says: They serve pancakes in hell...

Adrian says: ...best part of all, you're coming with me

Adrian says: Best part of all, you're coming with me.

Kumar says: No can do man. I gotta stay here and smoke this weed, otherwise I won't get high.

Kumar says: Dude, nothing bad ever happens in Claymation

Kumar says: Dude, nothing bad ever happens in Claymation.

Harold says: Ya we've been trying to get pregnant. For a year.

Kumar says: Now I feel really bad about your dick.

Harold says: Dude, were clay-mated.

Kumar says: Awesome.