RD / Leon / Retna Digital
RD / Leon / Retna Digital

Entertainment Tonight Just because Kal Penn asked out of his "House" contract, it doesn't mean he was any less stunned than viewers by his character's suicide. "I was shocked by it, but I think that was the nature of what they were going for," Kal said in a phone call the morning after his character's death was televised. "When they told me about it, I asked if there was anything in his background that would have indicated that, or if there were any warning signs beforehand. The answer was, 'No.'" Kal departed the show to work for President Barack Obama, whom he campaigned for since 2007. A more obvious choice for a character to commit suicide would have been that of Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), who has expressed unhappiness with his life and his job with House (Hugh Laurie). The suicide of Dr. Kutner (Penn) came out of left field and leaves House and the audience searching for answers -- answers that may never come. Related: Inside the (Odd) Mind of Hugh Laurie "It was disturbing to me as an actor, but I also recognized that is the journey the audience would go through, too," he adds. "I wasn't allowed to talk about it with anybody. At least when the audience sees it they can talk about it with their friends. There was a lot of Peter Jacobson, Olivia Wilde ("13") and me going, 'Isn't this insane.'" #inlineGalOuter{ margin-top:10px; text-align:center; } #inlineGal { background-image:url('http://entimg.msn.com/i/grandprix/inlineGalleryBg.jpg' ); background-repeat: no-repeat; height: 334px; width: 452px; padding: 14px 24px 0px 24px; } #inlineGalHed { font-size: 18px; margin-bottom: 7px; text-align:left; } #inlineGalImageDiv { padding: 2px; border: 1px solid #b3c9e0; width: 442px; } #inlineGalViewAll { font-size: 13px; text-align: right; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 8px; } Photos: Celebs and Obama View all » The "Harold & Kumar" actor adds that he is not retiring from acting on a permanent basis, but when the opportunity to work at the White House presented itself, he couldn't say no. He says he has always had two passions: acting and public service. The opportunity to work for President Obama was too good to turn down, but it will have financial implications, as well. "Obviously, going from a private career where you are working for a big company to a public service career, there is a huge pay cut," he points out. "The concern with that is I own a home. This is a terrible housing market and my concern is the same as anybody else's moving to a new city: Can I sublet my house for the same price as my mortgage? Can I refinance it? We will see. It is not something I have entirely figured out." Kal's involvement in politics is a family tradition. His grandparents marched with Ghandi and passed down the stories, so it was always on his mind growing up. When he began campaigning for President Obama, Kal was a registered Independent. He still is. But he says that he believes in the change that the president put forth in his campaign promises. So did the two ever talk about "House"? "He did mention 'House,' but it was a passing comment," Kal says. "I met him at a fundraiser. He said, 'You are on that show. What show are you on?' I said, 'I am on "House."' He said, 'The doctor show. Nice work.' I didn't really get to know him until later on in the campaign." Kal will be traveling to Washington, D.C. next week to begin searching for an apartment. He expects to be there for the next year or two for his job as associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison. Oh, and by the way. He says if you go back and watch past episodes of "House" there are no clues leading up to his death. "The performance didn't change," he says of learning his character was going to kill himself. "That was the first thing I asked: 'Do you want this to be informed that he is struggling with something?' This comes out of left field. There were no codes that we put in for people to decipher." "House" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX. Related: Inside the (Odd) Mind of Hugh Laurie