KYIV (AFP) – Hollywood star Ben Stiller met Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday (June 20), hailing the comedian-turned-president as “my hero” for rallying the world’s support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.
“It’s a great honour for me.. you’re my hero!” said Stiller, a UN goodwill ambassador who met the Ukrainian leader on World Refugee Day.
“What you’ve done, the way that you’ve rallied the country, the world, it’s really inspiring,” said the 56-year-old American comedian referring to Mr Zelensky’s countless speeches to audiences around the world to rally support for his embattled country.
Footage of their meeting was released by Mr Zelensky’s office.
It was an honour to meet President @ZelenskyyUa on #WorldRefugeeDay as part of my visit with UNHCR @Refugees to stand in solidarity with people forced to flee in Ukraine and worldwide, and bring more attention to the humanitarian situation. @Refugees #WithRefugees pic.twitter.com/zpNpva233j
— Ben Stiller (@BenStiller) June 20, 2022
Earlier on Monday, Stiller visited the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, the scene of fierce battles early on in the invasion and the closest Moscow’s army got to the capital since it sent troops into Ukraine in February.
“I feel it’s hard to understand what’s actually going on here if you haven’t been here,” he told Mr Zelensky.
“I was in Irpin this morning.. and the actual level of destruction, you see it on TV, you see it on social media, but it’s something else to actually see it, feel it and then to talk to the people,” he said.
Speaking in English, Mr Zelensky thanked Stiller for coming and told him it was “very important” for him to keep reminding people what was going on in Ukraine.
“It’s very important for us that people don’t forget. It’s not interesting to speak about the war every day.. but for us it’s very important,” the stocky Ukrainian leader told him.
The pair also acknowledged their shared interest as comedy actors.
“You quit a great acting career,” said Stiller, who is best known for his comedy roles in Meet The Parents and the Night At The Museum films, in a nod to Mr Zelensky’s former career as a comedy actor.
“Not as great as yours,” Mr Zelensky retorted, both laughing.
Before being elected in 2019, Mr Zelensky was best known for his role in Servant Of The People, a comedy satire in which he played a high school teacher who unexpectedly becomes Ukraine’s president.