Actor Sean Penn speaks about meeting Zelensky and his admiration of Ukrainians

14 April, 07:34 PM
Sean Penn (Photo:@Hollywood Authentic)

Sean Penn (Photo:@Hollywood Authentic)

Two-time Oscar winner, actor and director Sean Penn, who is filming the documentary ‘Vice’ about Ukraine, spoke to entertainment news site Hollywood Authentic on April 9 about meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his own experiences in helping Ukraine.

Two-time Oscar winner, actor and director Sean Penn, who is filming the documentary ‘Vice’ about Ukraine, spoke to entertainment news site Hollywood Authentic on April 9 about meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his own experiences in helping Ukraine.

Penn was in Kyiv the first day of the full-scale Russian war against Ukraine in Kyiv. The day before, he had arrived in Ukraine to continue filming his documentary, ‘Vice’, about the war in eastern Ukraine. In this new interview, Sean Penn spoke about meeting Volodymyr Zelensky, assistance to Ukraine provided by his non-profit organization CORE, and his thoughts about how he could help Ukraine.

Видео дня

The 61-year-old actor, star of film classics such as ‘I'm Sam’ and ‘Bad Boys’, revealed that his first meeting with Zelensky was via a Zoom during the pandemic, when they were discussing the possibility of making a documentary about Ukraine. He met the President in person the day before war, and saw him the next day, when the war began. Sean Penn noted that before and after invasion, he saw two different Zelensky’s.

“Zelensky, whom I personally met the day before start of the war, looked, I would say, not fully revealing. And then I saw him the next day. I was amazed that I saw a man who realized that he needed to rise to the highest level of human courage and leadership,” Penn recalled

He expressed his admiration of Ukrainian courage, and urged reads to watch the documentary ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom’ (2015), on Netflix, to understand why Ukrainians are so resilient.

“Go back to 2014, because they showed the world who they are back then. And so when you watch Winter on Fire, it’s a very easy transposition into today,” he said.

“I’ve been to Ukraine twice. I’ve been in Mariupol. I was at the frontlines in Mariupol in November [2021], since when it’s been incredibly assaulted by the Russians. I’ve spent time in Kyiv, in Lviv, everywhere in between. But you don’t even need a passport to appreciate what’s important for us to understand – just watch Winter on Fire. It might be about the people in 2014 but they’ve been the same people every single day and never more so than now.”

The actor is actively supporting Ukraine through the non-profit organization CORE, which he co-founded with CEO Ann Lee in after the 2011 earthquake in Haiti. The Foundation has been providing assistance in the areas of disasters and hostilities for many years. In March, the Foundation opened an office in Poland, and is now providing support to Ukrainian refugees.

“Look, my intention is to go back into Ukraine,” he said.

“But I’m not an idiot, I am not certain what I can offer. I don’t spend a lot of time texting the president or his staff while they’re under siege and their people are being murdered. I’d probably send one message through the chief of staff. ‘Here’s what I’m looking to do that I think would be of value. You only have to answer me in one of two ways: don’t come or come and do what you’re planning, or come, but here’s where you could be more helpful.”

When asked whether the actor was afraid of the current hostilities, Penn replied that he’d “never really taken any risks at all.”

“The only possible reason for me staying in Ukraine longer last time would’ve been for me to be holding a rifle, probably without body armour, because as a foreigner, you would want to give that body armour to one of the civilian fighters who doesn’t have it or to a fighter with more skills than I have, or to a younger man or woman who could fight for longer or whatever.”

@Hollywood Authentic
Фото: @Hollywood Authentic

“If you have seen war, and I’ve seen a little bit of it, there’s a rite of passage while you are in or near it that has to do with some basic questions you ask yourself: how would I react? Could I keep enough oxygen in my brain to make clear judgements? Are you going to be damaged by being in a war, emotionally or psychologically?”

Penn first visited Ukraine in Nov. 2021, visiting a settlement in the Pryazovia region, which was located on the territory of the former JFO area. Following his visit, he decided to make his next documentary about Ukraine.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News

Show more news
X