Recently, Ben Stiller and Sean Penn have made visits to Ukraine in a show of support against the ongoing Russian invasion of the country. As a result, the comedy movie and drama movie stars have been banned from Russia by the government there.
Kremlin officials revealed a list this September of 25 people who’re permanently forbidden from coming to the country. Stiller and Penn are both namechecked, alongside a number of American senators, from both the Republican and Democratic parties and other executives from different companies and foundations. Neither Penn nor Stiller are especially shocking, since they’ve both condemned president Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and held widely publicised trips to see Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Stiller visited in June to mark World Refugee Day as part of his role as a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the BBC, he was effusive in his praise of Zelensky during his time there, openly stating: “It’s a great honour for me, and nice to see you. It’s really wonderful, you’re my hero, you’re amazing.”
Penn was actually filming a documentary in Ukraine in March when he had to flee the country due to Russia’s presence. A dedicated activist, he told Hollywood Authentic he wants to go back and offer what he can.
“Look, my intention is to go back into Ukraine. But I’m not an idiot, I am not certain what I can offer,” Penn says. “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. I’d probably send one message through the chief of staff: ‘Here’s what I’m looking to do that I think would be of value. You only have to answer me in one of two ways: don’t come or come and do what you’re planning, or come, but here’s where you could be more helpful’.”