He attended the Freehold Regional High School District's Performing Arts High School where he participated in the school's theater productions. In 1995, he moved to Los Angeles to study at the UCLA's prestigious School of Theatre, Film and Television. He majored in film and sociology.
He began his acting career in several indie films. His breakthrough film role came in the comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), and after that, two more Harold & Kumar films have followed. He went on to appear for 2 years in the television series Dr. House (2004). One thing he is known most for is his roll as Kevin in How I Met Your Mother.
He developed an interest in politics from his grandparents who marched for India's independence. In 2009, he joined the Obama administration as an Associate Director.
Notes and Trivia
- Born in New Jersey, now resides in L.A.
- He and the other students were banned from using the word "like" in his acting classes, this was to make them sound more intelligent during auditions.
- Is a vegetarian, contrary to the role that he plays in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004).
- Is of Gujarati Indian descent.
- Began using the name Kal Penn, a variation on his first name Kalpen, to get more roles; he believed that his difficult foreign name would scare away potential employers.
- Close friends with Olivia Wilde.
- Is best friends with John Cho, Ryan Reynolds and Neil Patrick Harris.
- Kal appeared with Matt Boren on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in the episode "You Can't Twin", Matt would later appear on How I Met Your Mother as Stuart.