BERLIN — Simply hours earlier than Russia started its invasion of Ukraine almost a yr in the past, actor Sean Penn had his first on-camera assembly with the nation’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“It was as if he was realizing himself, that he was born for this second,” Penn recalled in an interview with The Related Press on the 73rd Berlin Worldwide Movie Competition on Saturday, a day after the pageant premiere of his documentary “Superpower.”
Penn and his co-director Aaron Kaufman have been in Kyiv to movie a profile of the comedic actor-turned-president when the struggle broke out. It might be the picture of the president strolling into the room for that first interview that might have the largest impression on Penn.
“It’s laborious to clarify, however there was a resolve in response to one thing that nobody has ever confronted earlier than,” Penn stated.
At a press convention additionally Saturday, Penn stated they returned to the resort after the interview and the shelling began that very night time. After they first met Zelenskyy, he had “a correct swimsuit and a correct workplace.”
“The subsequent time we noticed him, he was in camos and his nation was at struggle,” Penn stated.
PHOTOS: Zelenskyy ‘born for this moment,’ Sean Penn says at Berlin
The outbreak of struggle despatched the documentary on an sudden monitor. The movie accommodates additional interviews with the president performed over the previous yr.
After finishing the mission, the pair have continued to talk off digital camera. Zelenskyy introduced the Hollywood star – who has been concerned in quite a few worldwide humanitarian and anti-war efforts over time – with the Ukrainian Order of Benefit final yr. Penn was additionally given a plaque on a Kyiv walkway honoring world leaders who’ve proven solidarity with Ukraine.
Penn instructed the AP that individuals could be most stunned by Zelenskyy’s “command of the mechanisms of presidency.”
“Not solely his, however all of these upon whom he’s reliant, his sense of mapping the diplomatic territory,” he stated. “He’s on hearth. He has that excessive reward for politics.”
Penn recalled the “civility” he noticed when leaving Ukraine by way of the Polish border just a few days after the invasion started.
“Nobody was honking. Nobody was attempting to drive across the different and take and there was a form of quiet acceptance,” Penn stated throughout the interview. “You realize, and these have been households being torn aside. Some, most stay torn aside.”
Throughout a later go to to Ukraine, Penn loaned one in every of his two Oscars to Zelenskyy, telling him: “If you win, deliver it again to Malibu.”
“The Oscar is there in his workplace and it’s able to be melted anytime he needs to soften it,” Penn clarified within the press convention after threatening to smelt his awards in public if Zelenskyy was not on this system for final yr’s Oscar telecast.
The Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences didn’t embrace a video handle from the president, opting as a substitute for a second of silence in help of the folks of Ukraine. Zelenskyy did handle the opening of the Berlinale on Thursday, exhorting artists and filmmakers to precise help for Ukraine.
Penn stated on the press convention that the reward of the Oscar was impressed by his “persevering with disgrace in direction of the management of the Academy, the movement image academy, in selecting to current Will Smith smacking Chris Rock fairly than the best image of cinema and humanity residing immediately on their broadcast.”
Penn’s two Oscars each have been for greatest actor, in 2003 for “Mystic River” and in 2008 for “Milk.” His earlier directing credit embrace “Flag Day,” “Into the Wild” and “The Pledge.”
Whereas it’s not uncommon for leisure personalities to get behind a trigger, “Superpower” sees Penn journey all the best way to the entrance line of the struggle to speak to troopers within the trenches. With regards to his drive and dedication, the star couldn’t inform you the place that comes from.
“I may make up various solutions” he joked to the AP. “It’s one thing I simply don’t actually in the end take into consideration, although I’ve been requested many occasions. … I don’t have the phrases for it.”
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