10 Facts About Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle On Its 15th Anniversary

Kal Penn, John Cho, and Malin Akerman in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004).
Kal Penn, John Cho, and Malin Akerman in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004).
Warner Bros.

If you’ve never seen it, director Danny Leiner’s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is exactly what it sounds like: a road trip movie about a couple of dudes (John Cho and Kal Penn) just trying to get to White Castle. Of course, it’s not that easy and shenanigans ensue.

Said shenanigans include (but are not limited to) a run-in with a ferocious cheetah, cameos by Neil Patrick Harris and Ryan Reynolds, and a bizarre rescue by a boil-faced tow truck driver named Freakshow. You can clearly see why it's become a bit of a cult hit. Not to mention, since the original film’s debut on July 30, 2004, the franchise has spawned two sequels and amassed millions of additional fans.

1. Krispy Kreme turned down a part in the movie.

Krispy Kreme could have been Harold and Kumar's ultimate fast food destination, but the famous doughnut company was wary of being associated with a movie that featured drugs.

2. The movie's producers had to make veggie burgers for Kal Penn.

Because Kal Penn is vegetarian, "The producers actually went out of their way to ... make little soy burgers that looked like White Castle burgers," Penn told Spliced Wire. "So I could just focus on the moment and not have to worry about all that. I probably ate about 30 of them."

3. Kal Penn had an allergic reaction while filming one scene.

In an interview with IGN, Penn recalled an uncomfortable scene in which ground walnuts were used to create dust coming out of a ventilator shaft. The problem? The actor is deathly allergic to nuts.

"They were so finely ground that I inhaled them," Penn said. "Now the only thing worse than eating nuts, where it gets processed, is inhaling them directly or injecting them. So why somebody decided to do that, I don't know. But I had to go outside for about two hours, I had to take a bunch of Benadryl, I was drowsy the rest of the day. And luckily I caught it [early]. Within 10 seconds of being in that room I was like 'There's something in here' and I left."

4. Christopher Meloni was always the first choice to play Freakshow.

And Meloni still has no idea why. “[The writers] said, ‘You know we thought of you from the beginning when we were writing this role for Freakshow,’" Meloni told Movie Web. "I didn’t know how to take that, I was like ‘You did, huh?’ I still don’t understand the logic, but whatever.”

5. Goldstein and Rosenberg were based on William Shakespeare characters.

According to The New York Times, Harold and Kumar’s best friends—Goldstein (played by David Krumholtz) and Rosenberg (portrayed by Eddie Kaye Thomas) were partially based on Hamlet's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as well as writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. ''We just knew Harold and Kumar had to have Jewish friends,'' Hurwitz said, ''to complete the multiracial circle we had in school.''

6. At first, Kal Penn didn’t like the way the film’s marketing played on race.

Ads for the film promoted the actors as “the Asian guy from American Pie” and “the Indian guy from Van Wilder.” In response to that, Penn told Spliced Wire. “At first ... I was like, Man, the movie is so not about that! Why did they have to bring it back to that? Then we realized that most people that are watching this trailer ... recognize us as the Indian guy from Van Wilder and the Asian guy from American Pie!”

“The trailer is funny because it says exactly what people are thinking," Cho added. "It also kind of dissipates—I think there is some unspoken measure of tension, like this is so unusual seeing Asian-Americans headlining a movie. So we kind of poke fun at that right off the bat.”

7. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg simply wanted to write a movie with characters that looked like their friends.

"The story is that the writers grew up in New Jersey, and they were really sick of seeing teen movies that were one-dimensional and that had characters which didn't look like any of their friends," Penn told Spliced Wire. "They were two white guys from Jersey, but they had a pretty diverse group of friends. So they were like, You know what? Let's write a film that's both a) smart and funny, and b) cast two guys that look like our best friends.” Added Cho: "There is a real Harold Lee."

8. Neil Patrick Harris was written into the movie before the writers got his consent.

In an interview with CinemaBlend, Neil Patrick Harris recalled the moment he heard he had a part in the film. “I got a call from a friend who was auditioning for this movie and he was so excited that we were going to be working together. And I said, ‘I have no idea what you're talking about.’ And he said, ‘Neil Patrick Harris is a character in this movie.' ... [My agents] read it, and then they called my attorney to find out what was going on, and then I winded up meeting with the [writers], kind of cautiously ... Because when you're talking about an extreme version of yourself, you want to make sure you're not painted in a super shitty light ... And I agreed to do it so long as any changes they made had to go through me contractually ... And they were fine with that and they didn't make any changes.”

9. Battlesh*ts was inspired by Hurwitz’s high school football team.

Hurwitz told Aint It Cool News about the moment he first encountered the gross game. “When I was in high school I was friends with a couple of the guys on the football team. A couple of really big funny guys. I remember in gym class ... Those two guys, for some reason, always have to take a sh*t during gym class ... They started joking around about playing Battlesh*ts,” Hurwitz said. “They would joke around about it and I would always talk to them about that and started playing it up with them and saying things like, ‘You sank my Destroyer.’”

10. Jon Hurwitz’s grandparents used to send him frozen White Castle burgers.

The quest and craving for White Castle was apparently not purely made up for the film. “I lived outside of Pittsburgh for seven years," Hurtwitz said. "When I was there and my grandparents would come to visit us, they'd fly out to Pittsburgh and they would bring frozen White Castle burgers before they were in the supermarkets. They didn't have them in the supermarkets, so they would go to the White Castle, they'd buy like, 120 burgers ... frozen ... and bring them in dry ice on an airplane to Pittsburgh. So, it always kind of just had a special kind of part in my heart.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

Watch John Krasinski Interview Steve Carell About The Office's 15th Anniversary

John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
NBC Universal, Inc.

The Office just passed a major milestone: It has been 15 years since the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's hit British sitcom made its way to NBC, where it ran for nine seasons. To celebrate the show's big anniversary, former co-stars John Krasinski and Steve Carell reunited in the best way possible: Carell appeared as a guest on Krasinski's new YouTube show, where the two decided to spread some positivity.

Krasinski just launched his very own news show titled Some Good News, and it's exactly what we've all been needing. During this segment, he interviewed Carell via video call, and the two shared their favorite memories of working on the beloved workplace comedy.

"It's such a happy surprise," Carell said of The Office's continued success. "After all these years people are still tuning in and finding it." The two also addressed the question that's been on every fan's mind: is there a chance that we'll see the Dunder Mifflin crew reunite in some way?

"Listen, I know everyone's talking about a reunion," Krasinski said. "Hopefully one day we'll just all get to reunite as people."

You can watch the full episode below. (Carell joins the video around the 5:50 minute mark.)

15 Facts About John Brown, the Real-Life Abolitionist at the Center of The Good Lord Bird

John Brown, circa 1846.
John Brown, circa 1846.
Augustus Washington/Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859, was meant to start an armed slave revolt, and ultimately end slavery. Though Brown succeeded in taking over the federal armory, the revolt never came to pass—and Brown paid for the escapade with his life.

In the more than 160 years since that raid, John Brown has been called a hero, a madman, a martyr, and a terrorist. Now Showtime is exploring his legacy with an adaption of James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. Like the novel it’s based on, the miniseries—which stars Ethan Hawke—will cover the exploits of Brown and his allies. Here's what you should know about John Brown before you watch.

1. John Brown was born into an abolitionist family on May 9, 1800.

John Brown was born to Owen and Ruth Mills Brown in Torrington, Connecticut, on May 9, 1800. After his family relocated to Hudson, Ohio (where John was raised), their new home would become an Underground Railroad station. Owen would go on to co-found the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society and was a trustee at the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, one of the first American colleges to admit black (and female) students.

2. John Brown declared bankruptcy at age 42.

At 16, Brown went to school with the hope of becoming a minister, but eventually left the school and, like his father, became a tanner. He also dabbled in surveying, canal-building, and the wool trade. In 1835, he bought land in northeastern Ohio. Thanks partly the financial panic of 1837, Brown couldn’t satisfy his creditors and had to declare bankruptcy in 1842. He later tried peddling American wool abroad in Europe, where he was forced to sell it at severely reduced prices. This opened the door for multiple lawsuits when Brown returned to America.

3. John Brown's Pennsylvania home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania
The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometime around 1825, Brown moved himself and his family to Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, where he set up a tannery and built a house and a barn with a hidden room that was used by slaves on the run. Brown reportedly helped 2500 slaves during his time in Pennsylvania; the building was destroyed in 1907 [PDF], but the site, which is now a museum that is open to the public, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Brown moved his family back to Ohio in 1836.

4. After Elijah Lovejoy's murder, John Brown pledged to end slavery.

Elijah Lovejoy was a journalist and the editor of the St. Louis/Alton Observer, a staunchly anti-slavery newspaper. His editorials enraged those who defended slavery, and in 1837, Lovejoy was killed when a mob attacked the newspaper’s headquarters.

The incident lit a fire under Brown. When he was told about Lovejoy’s murder at an abolitionist prayer meeting in Hudson, Brown—a deeply religious man—stood up and raised his right hand, saying “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery."

5. John Brown moved to the Kansas Territory after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which decreed that it would be the people of Kansas and Nebraska who would decide if their territories would be free states or slave states. New England abolitionists hoping to convert the Kansas Territory into a Free State moved there in droves and founded the city of Lawrence. By the end of 1855, John Brown had also relocated to Kansas, along with six of his sons and his son-in-law. Opposing the newcomers were slavery supporters who had also arrived in large numbers.

6. John Brown’s supporters killed five pro-slavery men at the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre.

A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry
A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 21, 1856, Lawrence was sacked by pro-slavery forces. The next day, Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Senator from Massachusetts, was beaten with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor until he lost consciousness. (A few days earlier, Sumner had insulted Democratic senators Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler in his "Crime Against Kansas" speech; Brooks was a representative from Butler’s state of South Carolina.)

In response to those events, Brown led a group of abolitionists into a pro-slavery settlement by the Pottawatomie Creek on the night of May 24. On Brown’s orders, five slavery sympathizers were forced out of their houses and killed with broadswords.

Newspapers across the country denounced the attack—and John Brown in particular. But that didn't dissuade him: Before his final departure from Kansas in 1859, Brown participated in many other battles across the region. He lost a son, Frederick Brown, in the fighting.

7. John Brown led a party of liberated slaves all the way from Missouri to Michigan.

In December 1858, John Brown crossed the Kansas border and entered the slave state of Missouri. Once there, he and his allies freed 11 slaves and led them all the way to Detroit, Michigan, covering a distance of more than 1000 miles. (One of the liberated women gave birth en route.) Brown’s men had killed a slaveholder during their Missouri raid, so President James Buchanan put a $250 bounty on the famed abolitionist. That didn’t stop Brown, who got to watch the people he’d helped free board a ferry and slip away into Canada.

8. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was meant to instigate a nationwide slave uprising.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and 18 men—including five African Americans—seized control of a U.S. armory in the Jefferson County, Virginia (today part of West Virginia) town of Harpers Ferry. The facility had around 100,000 weapons stockpiled there by the late 1850s. Brown hoped his actions would inspire a large-scale slave rebellion, with enslaved peoples rushing to collect free guns, but the insurrection never came.

9. Robert E. Lee played a part in John Brown’s arrest.

Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

Shortly after Brown took Harpers Ferry, the area was surrounded by local militias. On the orders of President Buchanan, Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee entered the fray with a detachment of U.S. Marines. The combined might of regional and federal forces proved too much for Brown, who was captured in the Harpers Ferry engine house on October 18, 1859. Ten of Brown's men died, including two more of his sons.

10. John Brown was put on trial a week after his capture.

After his capture, Brown—along with Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Shields Green, and John Copeland—was put on trial. When asked if the defendants had counsel, Brown responded:

"Virginians, I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial: but, under no circumstances whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment, without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel: I have not been able to advise with anyone ... I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery of a trial—no insult—nothing but that which conscience gives, or cowardice would drive you to practice. I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial."

Brown would go on to plead not guilty. Just days later, he was found “guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising with slaves and others to rebel, and murder in the first degree” and was sentenced to hang.

11. John Brown made a grim prophecy on the morning of his death.

On the morning of December 2, 1859, Brown passed his jailor a note that read, “I … am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood.” He was hanged later that day.

12. Victor Hugo defended John Brown.

Victor Hugo—the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was also an abolitionist—penned an open letter on John Brown’s behalf in 1859. Desperate to see him pardoned, Hugo wrote, “I fall on my knees, weeping before the great starry banner of the New World … I implore the illustrious American Republic, sister of the French Republic, to see to the safety of the universal moral law, to save John Brown.” Hugo’s appeals were of no use. The letter was dated December 2—the day Brown was hanged.

13. Abraham Lincoln commented on John Brown's death.

Abraham Lincoln, who was then in Kansas, said, “Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right.”

14. John Brown was buried in North Elba, New York.

John Brown's gravesite in New York
John Brown's gravesite in New York.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1849, Brown had purchased 244 acres of property from Gerrit Smith, a wealthy abolitionist, in North Elba, New York. The property was near Timbuctoo, a 120,000-acre settlement that Smith had started in 1846 to give African American families the property they needed in order to vote (at that time, state law required black residents to own $250 worth of property to cast a vote). Brown had promised Smith that he would assist his new neighbors in cultivating the mountainous terrain.

When Brown was executed, his family interred the body at their North Elba farm—which is now a New York State Historic Site.

15. The tribute song "John Brown's Body" shares its melody with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

It didn’t take long for Brown to become a martyr. Early in the 1860s, the basic melody of “Say Brothers Will You Meet Us,” a popular camp hymn, was fitted with new lyrics about the slain abolitionist. Titled “John Brown’s Body,” the song spread like wildfire in the north—despite having some lines that were deemed unsavory. Julia Ward Howe took the melody and gave it yet another set of lyrics. Thus was born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a Union marching anthem that's still widely known today.

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