On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, Ben Stiller visited Ukraine as the goodwill ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The actor spoke at length about the current situation in Ukraine during the conflicts with Russia and how people are adapting to a new life.
The highlight of Stiller’s trip was a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky where the two discussed the state of the country and the ongoing efforts to end conflicts. Stiller told him: “Sir, really nice to meet you. Thanks for taking the time. You’re my hero, for what you’ve done in this country and for the world.”
In an interview with the BBC, Stiller later reflected: “It’s my first time coming to an area that’s in conflict. But it’s really strange because when you drive into the country, really in the west of the country, you don’t feel the conflict, except for the curfew at night where it gets very quiet and a little bit eerie.”
“The thing that gets me is these are just people like you and I who have been caught in a circumstance totally beyond their control,” the actor continued. “And nobody wants to flee from their home, nobody wants to have to go out into the world and have to start afresh, or even just trying to find a way to survive.”
Talking about the Hollywood impulse to convert such spectacles into commercial ventures, Stiller admitted that he had similar ideas but was shocked by the devastation: “I’m an actor, so the first thing I go to is like, ‘Oh, it looks like a movie’. But the scale of it is even bigger and it’s real, so that’s really distressing.”