Actor-director Sean Penn presented Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy with one of his Oscars as a symbol of strength on Tuesday, asking the leader to keep it until his country can defeat Russia.
Penn’s visit to Ukraine on Tuesday was his third since the start of his war with Russia.
“It’s just symbolic nonsense, but if I know this is here with you, I’ll feel better and stronger for fights,” Penn said in a video posted online by Zelenskyy’s office. “When you win, bring him back to Malibu.”
Zelenskyy initially turned down the Academy Award, but eventually accepted the offer.
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“We have to win,” the president said.
He later wrote in a post: “Sean brought his Oscar statuette as a symbol of faith in our country’s victory. He will be in Ukraine until the end of the war.”
Penn has won two Oscars for Best Actor during his career. He received the first prize in 2003 for his role in the movie “Mystic River” and the second in 2008 for “Milk”.
Zelenskyy also presented Penn with an award during their meeting, awarding the actor the Order of Merit of the III degree for his support of Ukraine. Penn’s name will be added to the “Walk of the Brave” in Kyiv, which honors foreign leaders and representatives who have offered significant support to Ukraine.
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Penn’s last visit to Zelenskyy was in June. The Hollywood director was also in Ukraine on February 24, the day Russia launched its invasion, while shooting footage for his documentary on the crisis that was already in the works.
She was one of thousands of people forced to flee to Poland on foot when Russian missiles began hitting Ukrainian cities.
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The actor has organized fundraisers through his CORE charity in support of Ukraine. In the spring, he even considered taking up arms to defend the war-torn country.
In September, Moscow barred Penn and fellow actor Ben Stiller, another vocal critic of the war, from entering Russia.