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Kal Penn -- who just landed a job at the White House -- says his acting days aren't over.

"I'm not retiring from acting," he said Wednesday in an interview with L.A.'s KOST 103.5 FM. "I'm obviously putting it on hold while I am working in the White House."

Added Penn, 31: "It's not a Joaquin Phoenix-style, walking-away-and-never coming-back [move]."

Penn -- whose new job title will be Associate Director in the Office of Public Liaison -- said the idea of working in politics occurred to him when he campaigned for Obama in Iowa during the writers' strike last year.

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When the strike ended, he returned to House and "started thinking I have this passion for something in public service," he said. "If Obama wins," he remembers thinking, "I'd like to continue working in public service."

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So he told House creator David Shore.

"David said, 'So you're telling me you want to leave the show?'" Penn recalled. "And I said, 'Well, I'm thinking about it.'"

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When Shore informed him his character, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, would commit suicide, Penn was stunned.

"That really hit all of us," he said. "There wasn't anything in Kutner's background that made us think it was going to happen."

But Penn said his character's shocking death will help House (Hugh Laurie) grow as a character: "House always has the answer to everything. This is the one thing that House is not going to have the answer to."

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