American actor Ben Stiller met on Monday in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to whom he expressed his admiration for his action since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“It's a great honor for me (…) You are my hero,” said Mr. Stiller, goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, during his meeting with Mr. Zelensky, himself a former actor , on the occasion of World Refugee Day, according to images released by the Ukrainian Presidency.
“What you have done, the way you have mobilized the country, the world, it is truly an inspiration,” added the 56-year-old American, referring to the countless speeches by Mr. Zelensky intended to audiences around the world to seek help for his country.
Earlier in the day, Ben Stiller had visited Irpin, a suburb of kyiv, where fierce fighting took place at the beginning of the invasion. It is also the closest point to the capital ever reached by the Russian army.
“I feel like it's hard to understand what's really going on here without coming here,” he told the president. “I was at Irpin this morning (…) and the real level of destruction, you see it on TV, you see it on social media, but it's another thing to really see it, to feel it and and then talk to people.”
Speaking in English, Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Mr. Stiller for his visit and told him that it was “very important” for him to remind the world of what takes place in Ukraine.
“It is essential for us that people do not forget. It is not interesting to talk about the war every day (…), but for us it is very important”, explained the Ukrainian leader.
The two men also discussed their common interest in comedy while laughing.
“You have given up a great acting career”, launched Mr. Stiller, famous for comedy films like “Night at the Museum” or ” My step-dad”. “Not as much as yours,” retorted Mr. Zelensky, who before being elected in 2019 starred in “Servant of the People,” a satirical series about a high school teacher who accidentally becomes president of Ukraine.