Sean Penn has handed one of his Oscars to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a trip to Kyiv.
The actor, who has visited Ukraine numerous times over the past year amid Russia’s invasion of the country to shoot a documentary, gifted Zelenskyy the statuette in a show of support.
As shown in a video on Zelenskyy’s Instagram (November 8), Penn tells him: “This is for you. It’s just a symbolic silly thing, but if I know this is here I’ll feel better and strong enough for the fights.
“When you win, bring it back to Malibu, because I’ll feel much better knowing there’s a piece of me here.”
In the video, Zelenskyy later presents the actor with an Order Of Merit honour for his “sincere support and significant contribution to the popularisation of Ukraine in the world”. Penn’s name is shown on a commemorative plaque.
“There are three places in the world that all the pride of my life will be,” Penn says after seeing the plaque. “The place where my daughter was born, the place where my son was born, and this.”
Penn’s Oscar will remain in Ukraine until the end of the conflict with Russia. He’s won two Oscars for Best Actor, first for 2003’s Mystic River and the second for 2008’s Milk.
The actor was previously praised for his contributions in supporting Ukraine when he visited the country in February. A statement from the president’s office at the time, read: “Sean Penn is demonstrating bravery that many others have been lacking, in particular some Western politicians. The more people like that – the true friends of Ukraine, who support the fight for freedom – the quicker we can stop this heinous invasion by Russia.”
In March, Penn vowed to “smelt” his Oscars if the Academy didn’t ask Zelenskyy to speak during the 2022 awards ceremony. While he didn’t make an appearance, there was a statement expressing support for Ukraine during the event.