Kal Penn seems like a guy that might have gone in any direction he chose, though politics might have always had a part in that selection. As it stands he’s one of those actors that currently is noticed by many but has to be mentioned to really open a discussion about him. Kal’s had a lot of notable roles and has always been at the top of his game for the most part wherever he’s popped up, but staying away from the spotlight is an on and off again thing for him it would appear. While he’s kept busy with various TV and film roles he’s not always the biggest star in the room but he’s always noticeable. In some cases he’s “that guy” that you’ve seen in countless other venues and in others he’s immediately recognizable since he does play some very popular roles. One good thing about him is that he doesn’t often get typecast though there is always the possibility of a stereotype that can find him in pretty much any role thanks to his Indian heritage. He’s moved well beyond that even while embracing however and has shown that he can perform roles that go beyond his roots and produce a character that people can get behind whether he does use his heritage or not.
So here are just a few of Kal’s best appearances in TV and movies to show what he’s done.
5. Designated Survivor – Seth Wright
This show is based on a premise that would likely never occur in the United States but for which there is still likely a contingency set into place that many people don’t know about. When a lower-ranking member of the White House is suddenly elevated to the presidency after numerous other high-ranking members are wiped out during the State of the Union address. Needless to say it wouldn’t be the most enviable position for anyone but it would also be absolutely necessary in order to keep the country from tearing itself apart as it tried to soldier on without a definite leader. However it’s very unlikely that this would happen, given that there are so many key figures that would be much more apt to be placed in office if the unthinkable occurred.
4. Superman Returns – Stanford
His part in this film isn’t all that big and the film didn’t get many great reviews. But it was an effort to stretch out in a way that people hadn’t seen him do before and it was a chance to be a part of a superhero movie that just didn’t go too well. The reason it’s on this list however is that he played his part as well as he could and was the perfect henchman in that he didn’t ask questions and just did the work. That’s the old-school kind of bad guy that works under one of the more powerful baddies that knows their place and doesn’t rock the boat unless he’s sure that he has the advantage.
3. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
This quickly became a cult favorite that many people found easy to support since it was just crazy enough and over the top enough to really move itself along. Harold and Kumar are the perfect mismatched pair that compliment one another in a number of ways and are still so opposite that they couldn’t possibly be any more different. Yet for all that they have a wild adventure on their way to White Castle and encounter a number of people, and a cheetah, that make the night that much more forgettable thanks to the fact that they were flying pretty high for a lot of it. This is one of those films that people either love or love to hate.
2. Epic Movie – Edward
Epic Movie was another in a line of spoof movies that were meant to really stick it to the classics while still having a good time with the parody. This movie got a little out there to be honest and went in a large number of directions that had to loop, twist, wind, and just about break in two to get back to the main point of the story. Edward of course was the guy that was willing to betray his family and do pretty much anything to get his chance at the glory he so badly wanted, but in the end all it did was get him into worse trouble than he’d imagined was possible.
1. Van Wilder – Taj
Taj was just awesome. There’s no other way to say it because the guy was kind of hopeless when he first met Van, but became a party animal throughout the movie and a very enlightened person by the end. The sequel to Van Wilder, The Rise of Taj, wasn’t quite as well received and it’s probably because the character of Taj was a lot better when he had Van Wilder to stand next to.
But Kal Penn is still a great actor, no matter what.
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