A Minute With: Kal Penn on Harold, Kumar and Obama

Wed Nov 2, 2011 5:59am EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Harold and Kumar return to theaters on Friday in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," the third film in the comedy franchise that includes "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" and "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."

This time, the dope-smoking friends -- now estranged and each with new sidekicks -- reunite to replace a prized Christmas tree Kumar accidentally burned down. While doing so, they get involved with Ukrainian mobsters, a waffle-making robot and a Christmas pageant starring Neil Patrick Harris.

Actor Kal Penn, 34, reprises his role as Kumar after taking a sabbatical to work for President Barack Obama in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

He spoke to Reuters about the film, his time away from Hollywood and what he's been doing since coming back.

Q: Why make a Harold and Kumar Christmas movie?

A: "What I love about the 'Harold & Kumar' movies is they aren't stoner movies like 'Cheech & Chong' and 'Pineapple Express.' Compared to them, Harold and Kumar aren't high for most of their movies. So I always view them as a buddy comedy first, which I think gives them liberty to do a Christmas movie, or a Guantanamo Bay movie."

Q: But Christmas movies have very specific holiday themes and don't usually involve characters like Harold and Kumar.

A: "This is a traditional Christmas movie in a lot of ways: there is a lot of heart, it is about friendship more than anything else and about a mysterious package bringing people together. Sure Harold and Kumar are obnoxious and vulgar, but it comes from such a pure-hearted place."   Continued...

<p>Actors John Cho (L) and Kal Penn pose for a portrait while promoting their upcoming movie "A Very Harold &amp; Kumar 3D Christmas" in Beverly Hills, California October 30, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>