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HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE
FROM GUANTANAMO BAY

About The Production
For the follow-up to 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, in which the title characters embarked on a hilarious and often surreal all-night quest for White Castle hamburgers, writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (screenwriters of the original film) decided to work on an exponentially grander scale – Harold and Kumar's cross-country race against time to avoid life behind bars.

Hurwitz and Schlossberg's original inspiration for Harold & Kumar can partially be credited to that old chestnut, "write what you know.” Before there were screenplays, there was a Harold Lee, who both Hurwitz and Schlossberg refer to as "one of our favorite people on the planet.” Hurwitz went to junior high with Lee, then moved during high school and became good friends with Schlossberg. All three linked up again in college at University of Pennsylvania. Schlossberg fondly remembers one summer during which they all lived and worked together in Philadelphia and "bonded over ‘Saved by the Bell' and ‘Conan O'Brien.'” During the same time, Hurwitz & Schlossberg began writing together. 

After a number of scripts with Harold and Kumar as "friend characters” – Harold based on the real-life Harold Lee, Kumar "an amalgamation of several Indian friends,” Hurwitz and Schlossberg decided to write a script where the pair took center stage. "And it turned out to be our first script to be made into movie,” recalls Hurwitz.

When it came to casting Harold for the first film, John Cho was the obvious choice because "wherever we'd go with Harold,” says Schlossberg, "people would shout ‘MILF!'” (a reference to a saying by Cho's character in the original American Pie.) "People would ask him if he was in American Pie a lot,” says Hurwitz.

"I started to reply ‘no,' but then I thought, ‘why not?' Lee confirms. "So I ultimately just agreed.”

The three are still very close. After Schlossberg and Hurwitz relocated to Los Angeles, Lee quickly followed. "I moved to L.A. to clear my name,” Lee jokes, "'because my life is not just about marijuana and eating burgers.”

Lee has also spent time on the set of both movies. He says seeing himself portrayed on screen is "the weirdest thing one could ever go through.” He admits to sharing some of Harold's neurotic tendencies, but that he's not "the wuss that Harold's often portrayed to be.” Though seeing his on-screen depiction is a little scary to him, "it's simultaneously awesome,” he says.

Writer-director Jon Hurwitz sees the sequel as an extension of the maturation that he, his writing partner Hayden Schlossberg and the leads, John Cho & Kal Penn (who portrays Kumar in both films), have undergone in the four years since the first film. "As Hayden and I get older, and as John and Kal get older, even though this movie takes place a day later, we feel like this one's a little bit more mature, while being significantly more immature,” says Hurwitz. "This movie validates John and Kal not just as youth comedy stars, but as this generation's Odd Couple.” 

John Cho articulates the contrast between first and second films: "Harold and Kumar get lost going to a hamburger place in the first one, and we get thrown into Guantanamo Bay in this one. It's a little more intense. And that's where you get the comedy.”

Eddie Kaye Thomas and David Krumholtz, back to reprise their roles as Harold and Kumar's neighbors, Rosenberg and Goldstein concur. "This one's more epic,” says Krumholtz. "It's more advanced than your typical Hollywood fare. This is really something special for the audience.” 

To Eddie Kaye Thomas, Hurwitz and Schlossberg have succeeded in staying true to the spirit of the what makes the original film great while making the new film even bigger and better "without hitting the old stuff too dead on, and without ever veering off course.” 

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