On Monday, in Kyiv, Ben Stiller met with President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as a celebrity Goodwill ambassador on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for World Refugee Day. June 20 is the day that the UN has set apart to commemorate the bravery of displaced peoples all around the globe. As such, it was the perfect time to take a look at what is going on in Ukraine by visiting Irpin and some other areas affected by the decimation of war before speaking with President Zelenskyy himself in Kyiv.

Zelenskyy welcomed Stiller warmly, saying that they knew him “very well,” and complimented his great acting career. The American actor, comedian, director, and producer is known for such works as The Ben Stiller Show, Zoolander, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty but is involved in many charities as well, including his appointment as Goodwill ambassador by the UNHCR in 2018.

 Stiller, in turn, commended President Zelenskyy, calling him “amazing” and his personal “hero.” After shaking hands, Stiller told him, “What you’ve done and the way that you’ve rallied the country… it’s really inspiring.”

Stiller also referenced an unusual commonality he and Zelenskyy share: the Ukrainian President was formerly an actor and comedian. Prior to running for President, Zelenskyy founded a company that produced, among other works, the very popular TV series Servant of the People (2015-2019), in which Zelenskyy himself played the part of a Ukrainian President. He won the real Presidency in 2019 by a huge margin. One of his running points was the promise to bring the longstanding discord with Russia to a close. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he has become a respected figure internationally for his passionate fight for his country.

 Zelenskyy thanked Stiller for bringing attention to the war still going on in Ukraine. He noted that while “it might not be interesting” to talk about the war in Ukraine on a daily basis, “for us it’s very important.”

 Stiller responded that it’s very impactful to see the destruction in person, as he did that same morning in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin. He said that “you see it on TV, you see it on social media and, you know, it’s something else to actually see it and feel it, and then to talk to the people.”

 Irpin just saw the withdrawal of Russian military forces in May. At that time the local Mayor, Oleksandr Markushin, reported at least 290 civilian bodies found.

Following his meeting with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ben Stiller stated on Twitter that his visit on behalf of UNHCR demonstrated a desire to “stand in solidarity with people forced to flee in Ukraine and worldwide.”