KIEV, UKRAINE (AP) — Actor Sean Penn, who is making a documentary about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lent one of his two Oscars to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and said, “If I win, Bring it back to Malibu.”
On Wednesday, Zelensky’s office released a video of Penn’s recent visit to Ukraine. The president tweeted that the Oscars are “a symbol of faith in our nation’s victory.”
“I feel like a traitor,” Penn, who has been involved in numerous international humanitarian and anti-war campaigns over the years, told Zelensky every time he left Ukraine.
“But knowing it’s by your side will make you feel better and stronger for the fight,” Penn said, taking the statuette out of its black bag and placing it on the table in front of Zelensky. “If you win, bring it back to Malibu because it makes me feel so much better knowing there’s a piece of me here.”
Zelenskiy was initially hesitant to accept the statue, but joked that he had to win quickly.
Oscar Penn won two Academy Awards for Best Actor in 2003 for “Mystic River” and in 2008 for “Milk.”
His spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email asking for more information on Wednesday.
Penn was one of the first to visit Ukraine after the Russian army moved there, and is working on a documentary about the invasion.
During the conference, Zelensky awarded Penn with the Ukrainian Order of Merit, which is given to citizens for outstanding achievements in economic, scientific, cultural, or military or political activity. Founded in 1996 by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, past recipients of the award include Ukrainian academics, writers and Soviet-era military commanders.
A video released by the president’s office showed Penn and Zelensky walking around Kyiv and arriving at Constitution Square, across from the Ukrainian parliament and presidential palace. who showed solidarity with Ukraine. The sidewalk, which opened in August, has a square plaque on the ground inscribed with Penn’s name and the invasion start date of February 24, 2022.
Pointing to the plaque, Pen told Zelensky that there were three places that were his source of pride: “Where my daughter was born, where my son was born, and this. Thank you.”