Van Wilder actor promotes sequel at NU

Van Wilder actor promotes sequel at NU

By Cynthia Retamozo

A “Van Wilder” movie may seem an unlikely battleground for upending stereotypes. But actor Kal Penn learned otherwise recently.

During the Q’A session of Van Wilder’s “Get Wilder” night Nov. 20 in the CSC Ballroom, one student asked Penn about being typecast into stereotypical Indian roles. Penn said for this reason he was initially reluctant to accept the Van Wilder part in the sequel.

After hearing his character’s name was Taj Mahal, Penn said he initially hung up with his agent. He eventually accepted the role because his agent said that since a major production company was behind it, it would open professional doors for him in the future.

“She explained that if I wanted to have the same opportunities as the pretty white boys on the WB, I would have to take this role and then branch out from it,” he said.

Penn, who gained notoriety playing a medical school stoner in the 2004 movie, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” fielded a variety of questions during the session. He immediately dispelled any lingering rumors about his personal drug use.

“I don’ t smoke in real life,” Penn said, igniting an eruption of laughter from the audience.

Sponsored by the Council for University Programs (CUP), Penn’ s appearance at the event also featured acoustic performances from Art Alexakis from the ’90s alternative rock band Everclear and Johnny Dubowsky from the New York-based band Johnny Lives. The threesome are touring college campuses across the country, promoting the movie and soundtrack for the sequel, “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.” It is scheduled for release Dec. 1.

Penn urged the initially shy audience to ask him questions. When he answered, the actor was true to the playful characters he’ s played onscreen.

One student who shared Penn’s Indian background asked if he needed a stunt double.

“Yes, leave me your contact information,” Penn said. “I’m going to make you do some crazy stuff.”

After the popularity of the first “Van Wilder” movie, CUP Showcase Chairperson Caitlin Lowell said they knew the college demographic would have a strong interest in the event.

“We figured it would appeal to Northeastern students,” she said. “So when we heard about the tour, we were immediately interested.”

The night began with a screening of the trailer for the movie, which brings Penn’ s Van Wilder character to Oxford University in England with his hard-partying antics in tow. After the trailer, Penn appeared onstage for a question and answer session with the audience.

After it ended, Penn introduced Dubowsky from Johnny Lives, whose music is included on the soundtrack. Johnny did an acoustic performance of “Get Steady,” the movie’s theme song.

Everclear’s Art Alexakis took the stage after Dubowsky. Equipped with an acoustic guitar, he performed a song titled, “Glorious.” Alexakis’ song “Hater” is also included in the soundtrack for the second Van Wilder movie.

When both performers finished, they, along with Kal Penn, left the CSC Ballroom as the new, updated version of “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” played onscreen. But instead of staying, several students followed the actor and performers outside the ballroom to snap pictures and autographs.

“Seeing Kal Penn in person was an amazing shock,” said sophomore biology major Shana Sanders. “I also like Everclear, so seeing Art was cool and the Johnny guy seemed pretty good, too.”

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