Sean Penn on his relationship with Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy

The actor has spoken about his contribution to the Ukrainian war effort
Sean Penn on his relationship with Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy

By Connie Evans, PA Entertainment Reporter

Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has spoken about his relationship with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and how he hopes to continue to help the war effort.

Speaking to Hollywood Authentic magazine for its inaugural issue, Penn (61) discussed the communication he has had with Mr Zelenskiy and the work he has been doing on a documentary about Ukraine.

Penn said: “I originally met him on Zoom, before the threat of more than the border war became real.

“This was early on in the pandemic in the US. We first started discussing a potential documentary about his country that wasn’t focused particularly on the war.

Sean Penn on the cover of new magazine Hollywood Authentic. Photo: Greg Williams/PA

“And since then there’s been a lot of exchanges between us. Then I went and met him face to face the day before the invasion. And I was with him during the invasion, on day one.”

Penn has spoken about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, most recently during a number of appearances on US television, including interviews on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell and Fox News show Hannity.

He told the new magazine, launched by entertainment photographer Greg Williams: “Look, my intention is to go back into Ukraine. But I’m not an idiot, I am not certain what I can offer.

“I don’t spend a lot of time texting the president or his staff while they’re under siege and their people are being murdered.”

In 2010 Penn founded the charity J/P Haiti Relief Organisation in response to the earthquake in Haiti.

The charity changed its name in 2019 to Core – Community Organised Relief Effort – to expand its work globally.

Core has since given assistance to people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently began supporting the war effort in Ukraine.

Penn said he is involved with the work done by Core and is continuing to shoot footage for his documentary about Ukraine, while regularly considering whether his work will add “value”.

“I’ve got plenty to do with Core on the receiving side of refugees in Poland. I’m shooting more for the documentary, but I’ll be doing a last-minute assessment of what value that will have,” he said.

“People will argue this, and there’s a million debates that I understand, but long term, we don’t have any tangible evidence that documentaries really change anything.

“We just don’t. We only know they can give hope.

“The only possible reason for me staying in Ukraine longer last time would’ve been for me to be holding a rifle, probably without body armour, because as a foreigner, you would want to give that body armour to one of the civilian fighters who doesn’t have it or to a fighter with more skills than I have, or to a younger man or woman who could fight for longer or whatever.

“So, where I am in life is short of doing that, but if you’ve been in Ukraine (fighting) has to cross your mind. And you kind of think ‘what century is this?’

“Because I was at the gas station in Brentwood the other day and I’m now thinking about taking up arms against Russia? What the f*** is going on?”

Sean Penn’s full interview is available now at hollywoodauthentic.com.

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