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Who knew. Kal Penn’s real name is actually Kalpen Modi.

Kal Penn, with President Obama, was an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. (photo from NY Times)

Kal Penn has worked on three of my favourite TV shows – teenage terrorist in 24, doctor on House and now a stint as Robin’s boyfriend on How I Met Your Mother. But he’s probably best known as a co-star in the Harold and Kumar films. The latest of which, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, may be out six weeks early, but still managed to satisfy my need for festive heart-warming comedy. And willy jokes.

This profile in the New York Times – Kal Penn, a Star Turn on Both Coasts – now reveals he changed his name! Kalpen Modi became Kal Penn. Amazing. Why didn’t I know this? I’m off the Spooool table quiz team aren’t I? Anyway he made this change because…

Penn says that he derived his acting name, Kal Penn, as a lark: “Almost as a joke to prove friends wrong, and half as an attempt to see if what I was told would work (that anglicised names appeal more to a white-dominated industry), I put ‘Kal Penn’ on my resume and photos.” His audition callbacks rose by 50 percent. He has stated that he prefers his birth name and uses “Kal Penn” only for professional purposes.

This all brings to mind one of the few good jokes from the “pretty decent” Horrible Bosses that wasn’t ruined by the trailer…

[to the in-car Live Support Nav Guide]
Dale Arbus: I’m always curious about these things, but is your real name Gregory?
Atmanand: Uh….no, sir. My real name is Atmanand.
Kurt Buckman: How do you get Gregory from that?
Atmanand:  Oh, Gregory was assigned to me by Nav Guide.
Nick Hendricks: Why don’t they let you use your real name?
Atmanand: They say many Americans find out real names hard to pronounce.
Kurt Buckman: Hey, you know what? I’m not gonna play by the rules anymore. From now on I’m gonna call you Amanand.
Nick Hendricks: At-manand.
Dale Arbus: What is it?
Kurt Buckman: Emanand.
Nick Hendricks: Atmanand.
Atmanand: Atmanand.
Dale Arbus: Aminand.
Dale Arbus: I’m gonna call you Gregory, cause that name’s a fucking nightmare, buddy.


Maybe Barry Sorento give him that idea?

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