Date of Birth: April 23, 1977
Birth name: Kalpen Modi
Born and raised in New Jersey, Kal Penn studied at UCLA's prestigious School of Theater, Film and Television. His first professional acting gig was in the short film, Express: Aisle to Glory (1988). A small part in the indie film, Freshmen (1999) followed. In 1999 he broke into television with a regular role in Brookfield, written by Josh Schwartz (who went on to create The O.C.) and a guest shot on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
More guest appearances on hit series such as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Spin City, Angel, ER, NYPD Blue and Tru Calling followed. In 2002, he landed his first big budget film, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, playing Taj Mahal Badalandabad.
Penn worked steadily after that, appearing both in indie and major studio films such as Malibu's Most Wanted (2003) and Love Don't Cost a Thing (2003). For the 2003/04 TV season, he played George on the WB sitcom All About the Andersons, starring Anthony Anderson.
His first starring role came when he played Kumar in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), although ironically, Kal is a vegetarian. In Son of the Mask, he plays Jamie Kennedy's best friend, Jorge. He described it to Teen Tribute: "I play this guy who is like a special effects techie who is really freaked out at what's going on with Jamie's character. He ends up coming to save him to bring him back to work for this big meeting. I'm holding down the job thing while he's doing this whole 'mask' stuff."
Penn has also appeared in A Lot in Love (2005) with Ashton Kutcher and Superman Returns (2006) directed by Bryan Singer, as well as the sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). From 2007 to 2009 he played a regular role on the hit medical series House as Dr. Lawrence Kutner, but had the writers kill his character off so he could join President Barack Obama's staff as the Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.
Due to contractual obligations, Kal left his post in Washington in June 2011 to star in a third Harold & Kumar movie—A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011), but once filming was completed, he returned to office.