The third Harold and Kumar movie is coming out in a few days. We got a chance to talk to Kal Penn, the actor who plays Kumar in the series. Besides the Harold and Kumar series, you might recognize Kal Penn from the TV show HOUSE, the movie Van Wilder, and various other productions. AmpedAsia: When the first Harold and Kumar film came out, Indians were considered squeaky clean, but thanks to you, and the rise of other comedians like Aziz Ansari, Russell Peters, etc, there is a different image of Indians. How do you feel about the transformation and comment on your involvement in this transformation?Kal:
I always like characters with more dimensions. Every community has flaws, every community has postives and negatives. I’m glad that people are finally seeing well-rounded characters. I’m a huge Aziz Ansari fan. I loved the episode of the Office centered around Diwali.AmpedAsia: Do you think we’re getting more Asian American actors due to Harold and Kumar?Kal:
I don’t think we’re getting more because of anything I’ve done. I’m only an actor. John Cho and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. We didn’t write the film, so the credit needs to go to the writers and everyone who put the business behind the movies. And also the fans.AmpedAsia: With the big gap between the films, was it hard to get back into character?Kal:
The plot of the first two were right after the other, but there was about 3 years between the first two. There were also 3 years between the 2nd and 3rd movie. However, the gap might be the fact that the plot of the 2nd and the 3rd movie were six years apart. After you start shooting you get into it and it’s just having good fun with friends.AmpedAsia: What do you think is the biggest breakthrough that Harold and Kumar made for Asian Americans?Kal:
I would go back to the writers and the studios. You haven’t seen a studio movie with two Asian Americans as the lead. I remain honored to play the character, but its not about me, it’s about the shift there and the perceived risk of making a film with two Asian Americans. I’m glad it worked and I hope that there are more films like that to be made in the future.AmpedAsia: It’s tough for Asian Americans to break through to Hollywood, how do you personally feel like you made it in Hollywood?Kal:
My story? I studied film in college. I worked odd jobs to pay the rent. I was a production assistant. I paid my dues. I chose to take roles that I thought were stereotypical, but I took them to give me something for my resume. I got great mentorship along the way. I tried to work as consistently as possible, and I’ve gotten great opportunities. John and I are deeply indebted to the Asian American community for supporting us. I don’t think we could have had careers like that if it wasn’t for the support of the Asian American community.AmpedAsia: The first movie was fresh and cool. Now with the 3rd movie, how are they keeping the latest film in the series fresh and cool and avoiding being stale?Kal:
Good question. We have the same writers who are consistently funny. Having it be a Christmas movie gave us a lot of stuff to work with. So we have both the family aspect of Christmas mixed with the raucous jokes of the Harold and Kumar series. Also there’s the fact that it’s six years after Guantanamo Bay. They’ve settled down a bit. Kumar has smoked a lot of weed and he’s down in the dumps. Harold’s the exact opposite. He has settled down in the suburbs and started a family. At the start of the movie, you’ll find out that these two aren’t friends anymore and haven’t hung out that much. Through the course of the film they reconcile and become friends again.AmpedAsia: Thanks a lot for the interview Kal Penn!
Check out A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas in theatres November 4th.