Who would have thought that a well-known Hollywood actor who has played a male nurse and a scowling model would end up in the capital of a war-torn country meeting with a former Ukrainian actor who is now President of that country? It sounds like it could have come straight off the pages of a movie script, but it didn’t. But unfortunately, this is real life in 2022.

As it turns out, the famous actor (Stiller, not Zelensky) is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency. Stiller met with refugees, and multiple high-ranking government officials, including the Ukrainian President.

Upon meeting in Kyiv, Stiller said to Zelensky,

“It’s an honor for me. It’s really wonderful, you’re my hero.”

Stiller and the rest of the world were amazed that a man who played the President of Ukraine in a TV comedy could become that country’s leader in real life and run it so well. I wonder if he’s thinking to himself, “Hmmmmm…Stiller 2024?” 

At any rate, he told Zelensky that he was impressed with “the way you’ve rallied the country-the world.” But, he added jokingly, “You’ve given up an acting career for this!”. The President replied, “Not as great as you!” Maybe a little bit was lost in translation there, but we get the idea; they respect each other.

In English, Zelensky thanked the actor for visiting and told him it was “very important for us that people don’t forget.”

Mr. Stiller met with displaced families on Monday, the 21st World Refugee Day. Image Credit: Andrew McConnell via Reuters

The “Meet the Fockers” star also met with US Ambassador Bridget A. Brink in Lviv in addition to visiting the cities of Irpin and Makarov. He took walking tours of the towns and witnessed the devastation firsthand.

Stiller and Brink meeting in Lviv. Courtesy of @USAmbKyiv, @BenStiller, and Twitter

Meeting Refugees in Poland

In the days before visiting Ukraine, Stiller was in Poland, meeting with some of the more than one million Ukrainians who fled their homeland to become refugees in the neighboring nation. He told them it was his goal to stand in solidarity with them and with all refugees worldwide and bring more attention to the difficult humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Ben Stiller walks past damaged buildings during his tour of the Lypki neighborhood of Irpin, Ukraine. Image Credit: Andrew McConnell/Reuters

Stiller told the Washington Post, “People have shared stories about how the war has changed their lives — how they’ve lost everything and are deeply worried about their future.” He said, “Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility. We have to remember this could happen to anyone, anywhere.”

Stiller is not the only American celebrity to visit Ukraine since the war began. Angelina Jolie visited the city of Lviv in April, where she met with numerous children and refugees. She is also a UN special envoy for refugees, but the April trip was personal.

Here is a sobering fact: The UN reported this month that more than 100 million people had been forced to flee their homes due to war, famine, natural disasters, or human rights abuses. That’s more than 1% of humanity.