Sean Penn was “endlessly impressed and moved” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he met with him on the day Russia began its invasion.
The Mystic River actor flew into Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, a few days before Russia launched its attack on the country to film a documentary for Vice Studios.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN on Friday, Penn revealed how impressed he was with Zelenskyy when they met the day before and the day of the invasion.
“I don’t know if he knew that he was born for this, but it was clear I was in the presence of something,” he said. “And again, I think reflected of so many Ukrainians, that was new to the modern world in terms of courage and dignity, and love that comes out of the man and the way he has unified that country.
“I think (Russian President) Mr. Putin certainly added to paving the way to that. But this is such an extraordinary moment. I was endlessly impressed and moved by him and terrified for him and for Ukraine.”
Several days before his CNN interview, the Oscar-winning actor and his documentary team abandoned their car at the side of the road and walked for miles to the Polish border. Speaking about their exit from Ukraine, Penn acknowledged they had “the luxury” of being able to leave their vehicles and noted that the cars queueing along that road were filled with mostly women and children.
Penn also stated that the war “is not going to end soon” and revealed his nonprofit organisation, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), is providing relief for refugees by giving out hygiene kits, water, and cash assistance to those crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland.
CORE responds immediately to support underserved communities across the globe through and beyond crisis.