5 Questions With Kal Penn of NBC’s ‘Sunnyside’

© 2019 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Credit: Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal

Yes, Kal Penn played Kumar in 2004’s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and its several sequels.

He’s had steady screen work since (House, How I Met Your Mother, Designated Survivor) and even took a sabbatical from acting from 2009-2011 to work in the White House Office of Public Engagement. “Most of the stuff that I was doing was not particularly sexy, which is probably why you didn’t hear about it for the two and a half years that I was working in D.C.,” Penn says.

You’ve probably heard about Penn’s starring role in the new NBC sitcom Sunnyside (Thursdays at 9:30pm ET/PT), playing a disgraced former New York City councilman. Penn accepted the role of answering our “5 Questions.”

What’s your strangest fan encounter?
I think it’s because I’m probably best known for playing a stoner that people are generally happy when they approach me. Probably just people offering me weed on the street, which is bizarre, but if that’s my biggest job hazard, then so be it.

Can you tell us about a time that you were starstruck?
I met Kip Thorne, who is a Nobel winning astrophysicist, when I was doing an episode of The Big Bang Theory a couple months ago. … This dude rolls up to the Warner Bros. lot in an old Volvo with a cowboy hat, and he’s like the nicest guy. I remember really wanting to show him my tattoos. “Look! I have astronomy tattoos!” He says, “Oh, that’s great.” And as soon as he said that, the thought that popped into my head was, “Oh, my God. I just asked you the equivalent of ‘How many White Castle burgers you had yesterday?’”

What’s your favorite sports team?
I’ll go with my UCLA Bruins.

What is a movie that you can watch over and over again?
The Goonies. A lot of those hold up. Even the original Karate Kid holds up.

What’s a job you had before you got into acting?
There were many, many jobs, but I’ll go with the one I liked the least, which was telemarketing. It was like a couple of desks lined up in a strip mall in New Jersey. This was when I was saving money to move to L.A. to be an actor. I thought to myself, “This will be an amazing job because I love screwing with telemarketers when they bother us at dinner! I bet it’s going be like an acting exercise, like I can be whoever I want! I’ll just be Phil from Bayonne, N.J.!” No, it doesn’t really work that way, and it’s a terrible job.

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About Ryan Berenz 2008 Articles
Devotee of Star Wars. Builder of LEGO. Observer of televised sports. Member of the Television Critics Association. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Connoisseur of beer. Consumer of cheese. Father of two. Husband of one. Scourge of the Alaskan Bush People. Font of Simpsons knowledge. Son of a Stonecutter.