John Cho and Kal Penn talk A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

John Cho and Kal Penn talk A Very Harold & Kumar 3D  Christmas

The 2004 cult hit “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” launched the franchise, followed by “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.” The third installment is the first to highlight the guys’ hilarious mishaps in 3D. John Cho and Kal Penn are back with their title roles in “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” which picks up six years after their last adventure. Every time-honored Christmas tradition is turned on its mistletoe, Harold and Kumar style, in their new holiday misadventure. “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” took on race and politics. Completing the trifecta of taboo subjects, this go-round they’re tackling religion, specifically the glory of Christmas.

Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and are preparing for their respective Yuletide celebrations. (Listen to Harold & Kumar’s Yuletide Jamz.) But when a mysterious package mistakenly arrives at Kumar’s door on Christmas Eve, his attempt to redirect it to Harold’s house ends with the “high grade” contents—and Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree—going up in smoke. With his in-laws out of the house for the day, Harold decides to cover his tracks, rather than come clean. Reluctantly embarking on another ill-advised journey with Kumar, through New York City, their search for the perfect replacement tree takes them through party heaven—and almost blows Christmas Eve sky high. Now the two old friends are rejoined in a singular mission: to find a replacement tree before Harold’s father-in-law gets home and roasts Harold’s chestnuts. Easier said than done. Especially when Harold and Kumar haven’t seen each other in two years and each has a new best friend. But, in the spirit of Christmas, the real present under this tree may be the rekindling of their friendship.

John Cho in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D  Christmas
John Cho, who reprises his role as Harold, the more uptight half of this odd couple, notes, “Making a Harold & Kumar movie is always fun and it’s always outrageous. Even though the films draw a line further out than most, they also have a surprisingly earnest and innocent attitude towards everything, which makes them weirdly lovable. And we are following Christmas movie rules. At first glance anyway.”

“What makes it a Harold & Kumar Christmas,” adds Kal Penn, who returns in the role of the slacker Kumar, “is an incredible amount of heart and incredible amount of inappropriateness. You’re used to seeing heart in a holiday movie…inappropriateness, not so much.”

Cho offers, “It feels like I’m a graduate student in the University of Harold & Kumar at this point. It’s fun working with Kal, who is unique. He’s very serious about his job, but on the other hand, we’ll get to the fifth take and he’ll throw out the most revolting improvs.”

Penn elaborates. “John Cho is awesome to work with. We’re good friends in real life, although I’m more of a Harold and he leans Kumar. I’m neurotic about focusing on the work, and he’s much more extroverted, but by the end, we switch and balance each other out.” Mirroring the distance that has developed between their characters, Penn and Cho did not even work together the first two weeks. “It was weird,” says Penn, “being Kumar without Harold. By the time John and I finally did our first scene, it was like a real reunion. When they first see each other at Harold’s, the undercurrent is they want to reconnect, so actually being apart a while added to it.”

“Harold and Kumar are, for all intents and purposes, a couple,” Cho muses. “They’re basically attached at the hip for the first two movies, and then Harold gets married and goes off to start his own family, eventually leaving Kumar behind. How do you keep that friendship together when you’re leading separate lives?”

Kal Penn in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D  Christmas
Racing against time and encountering one bizarre obstacle after another, Harold and Kumar encounter familiar faces from their previous misadventures, led by the unstoppable Neil Patrick Harris, often referred to as just NPH. It would not be a “Harold & Kumar” film without Neil Patrick Harris. “NPH brings a sense of magic to our movies,” John Cho observes. “He’s the second act wizard, thereby making any situation plausible in the Harold & Kumar universe. That’s an amazing thing that a character and the actor playing him can bring.” Kal Penn concurs, “Whenever Neil comes to town it’s definitely one of the highlights of the shoot. Neil is always down for whatever they throw at him. And he can improvise some foul, hysterical bits. He’s hilarious.”

One thing always turns out right, however. No matter how much trouble Harold and Kumar get into, their friendship prevails. And the camaraderie remains intact— between them and their audience. John Cho states, “From the first film on, we were grateful to the audience who related to the underdog quality of the characters and rooted for Harold and Kumar. And that made us feel like they were rooting for us in real life, too. So we try to treat them like friends and take them along for the ride. So far the mutual admiration is working.” Kal Penn adds, “If you want to look at the films as a social commentary, or wonder at the double meaning of some of the lines, that’s the other layer to it. I think there’s 13 something in there for every fan of the franchise and all the newcomers to the party, and it’s been a blast to revisit.”

Get tickets to A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas at Fandango or Also watch Kal Penn and John Cho on Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

John Cho talks A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Kal Penn talks A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

More about John Cho
Born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Cho began acting while studying English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. His first theatre role in “The Woman Warrior,” an adaptation of the renowned memoir by Maxine Kingston, took him touring across country. Other stage roles include Laertes in the Singapore Repertory Theater’s production of “Hamlet” and a variety of shows for East
West Players.

Upcoming, he stars opposite Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale in the sci-fi thriller “Total Recall,” and returns for “American Reunion,” the fourth installment of the original “American Pie” film series, having appeared in the previous three.

More about Kal Penn
Born and raised in New Jersey, Penn graduated from the Freehold Regional High School District’s Performing Arts High School, attended the Governor’s School for the Arts, and received a degree from the prestigious School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA.

Penn recently returned to acting from a 2-year sabbatical, during which he served as an Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. During his time there, he served in a variety of roles, including that of President Obama’s Liaison to the Arts communities, Young Americans, and Asian Americans & Pacific 15 Islanders. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Cinema, Sociology and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in International Security at Stanford University

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