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Kal Penn Leaves House to Work for President Obama

USMagazine, Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 10:05am (PDT)

Kal Penn has left Fox's House for the White House.

The 31-year-old actor -- whose character, Dr. Kutner, committed suicide on Monday's show -- tells Entertainment Weekly that it was his decision to leave the hit show to work for President Obama.

Penn will be the associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs -- a similar job he had while campaigning for Obama last year.

See other celebs who campaigned for Obama

"They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations," Penn explains. "They're basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House."

Penn -- known for his role in the stoner comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle -- says he had been "thinking" about moving into politics "for a while."

See Barack Obama's baby photo

He took several political science courses in college and even participated in an online international studies program at Stanford in 2006.

"I love what I do as an actor. I couldn't love it more. But probably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service," he says. "I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else."

See the most embarrassing moments from the 2008 campaign

Penn -- who called his new gig "a relatively recent development" -- doesn't mind taking a pay cut.

"There's not a lot of financial reward in these jobs," he says. "Obviously, the opportunity to serve in a capacity like this is an incredible honor."

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