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CCI: The Harold & Kumar Panel

An uproarious crowd attended the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego last Sunday. Co-writers and directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg were the first on stage, followed by the stars of the movie, John Cho and Kal Penn.

Co-star Neil Patrick Harris was also slated to appear, but was in London directing a play. When the news was broken, several crowd members started cheering NPH! NPH!

After the crowd calmed down, a clip rolled featuring the upcoming DVD release's Dude, Change the Movie feature, where the viewer will be able to change Harold and Kumar's decisions in a Choose Your Own Adventure style. While we were shooting the second movie, we realized we wanted to make a DVD for the fans, said Hurwitz. Almost two days of shooting were specifically dedicated to the DVD release.

Most of the scenes are very naked, said Penn.

Hurwitz also said that there is also a twelve-minute adventure in which the duo actually gets to Amsterdam.

The panel then opened up the audience Q&A. The first fan asked Penn when he realized he was a cultural phenomenon. When I was called 'Harold' on the street, laughed Penn, who of course plays Kumar.

Penn also said that his favorite role was Gogol in 2006's The Namesake. Cho's favorite role was in West 32nd.

Hurwitz and Schlossberg also confirmed that they have a deal to write a third Harold & Kumar adventure. We're thinking about recasting Neil Patrick Harris, joked Hurwitz.

They didn't have any further details, as words have not yet been put to paper, but an audience member shouted Tijuana!

That makes it easier, said Hurwitz.

An audience member asked what it was like to be an Asian minority in Hollywood. It's still difficult for Asian actors to get the same breadth of story in their roles, said Cho, but things are getting better. As long as the studios look at us as consumers, I think we'll see positive changes.

The next fan asked what it is like to be stoner celebrities. Erotic, said Cho with a grin. But ...it can be awkward, 'cause we're not stoners ourselves. I'm a blow man myself.

The directors were asked who else could have been cast in the Neil Patrick Harris role. We contemplated Fred Savage, said Hurwitz, but they had always written the role as Neil Patrick Harris, for Neil Patrick Harris. We were crossing our fingers for a lot of [the first] movie, said Schlossberg. We were hoping White Castle would say yes and they did. We hoped the studios would say yes to minority protagonists, and they did. And we hoped NPH would say yes.

Subsequently, the writing team was contacted by Ralph Macchio's people, saying that he would be happy to fill the role if Harris said no.

The panel wrapped after the actors answered the question who else could have played Harold and Kumar? I believe Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria could play Kumar, Penn joked. But there was absolutely no shortage of Asian actors with talent at the auditions.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay was released on DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday July 29, as will a Blu-ray edition of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

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