It is his all-time favourite part but Indian-origin star Kal Penn revealed that he almost lost the role of Gogol in Mira Nair's "The Namesake" due to his comedic image from "Harold & Kumar".
The 39-year-old actor said he had loved Jhumpa Lahiri's novel and even tried to buy the rights but Nair, who he credits for being one of the few people to have inspired him to join films, already had the rights with her.
Penn said he began an aggressive campaign to land the part but despite several calls and messages by him, his agent and manager, he failed to get any response from the director.
"I finally decided to write her a letter and tell her that she is one of the reasons that I am an actor... I told her that you have to audition me. Nothing happened for two weeks but then I got a call that Mira Nair wants to talk to me," Penn, 39, said at an event here.
The actor, however, was crestfallen after Nair told him that the role was already cast.
"When I met her, she said the role has already been cast and my 12-year-old son is a huge fan of 'Harold & Kumar'.
"She said, 'The biggest reason you are here is because my son and his friend have been telling me to audition you for the last six months. And I considered it until they dragged me to the computer to show me 'Harold & Kumar' and I knew you are absolutely the wrong choice'," Penn said while recalling his meeting with the director.
Penn said Nair had a change of heart after meeting him in person and luckily for him things did not work out with the other actor.
Comparing the story of "The Namesake" with the great American novel "The Catcher in the Rye", the actor said he could greatly identify with the part.
Also starring Irrfan and Tabu, "The Namesake" released in 2006 and went on to become a huge critical success.