Hollywood star Sean Penn has once again visited Ukraine and exchanged gifts with President Vladimir Zelensky, telling his “great friend” to hold on to his Oscar until Ukraine defeats Russia.
“This is for you… When you win, bring it back to Malibu. I’ll feel much better knowing a piece of me is here,” Penn told Zelensky, according to a video shared by the president’s office on Tuesday. “It’s just a symbolic silly thing, but if I know this is here with you then I’ll feel better and stronger for the fight.”
An actor-turned-politician, Zelensky returned the favor by presenting Penn with the Order of Merit for “significant contribution to the popularization of Ukraine in the world.” Penn has been vocal in his support for Ukraine and has repeatedly called on the international community to send more aid to Kiev.
The 61-year-old actor initially went to Kiev shortly before the fighting broke out in late February to film a documentary for Vice Media about Kiev’s war against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
In March, he distinguished himself among Zelensky’s many cheerleaders by demanding his “great friend” be given a platform to speak at the Academy Awards, threatening to not only boycott the event, but to melt down his own statues if he wasn’t included. Even though Zelensky did not make an appearance at the Oscars, Penn has yet to follow through on his promise.
Sean Penn is far from the only Hollywood actor to openly support Ukraine’s cause. American actor Ben Stiller met with the Ukrainian leader in Kiev and called Zelensky his “hero.” Actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars film series, said he sent over 500 drones to Ukraine via the country’s United24 fundraising platform in the last month alone.