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Featured Image Credit: PA/Warner Bros
Before becoming president in 2019 and subsequently leading his country against the recent Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky worked for 23 years as an actor and comedian.
Zelensky has won praise in recent days for his refusal to leave Kyiv in the face of attack and sharing inspirational videos for his citizens in the face of unimaginable terror.
Now, people are just discovering that Zelensky was the voice to the friendly bear in the Ukrainian versions of Paddington and Paddington 2.
In a preview video for the second film, Zelensky welcomes viewers in between recording the voice for his character.
“Hello to my darling friends,” he says.
“I, Volodymyr Zelensky, will lend my voice to the wonderful, charismatic, friendly bear Paddington.”
He adds: “Paddington [is a film] you can go to see with your whole family, and everyone will enjoy it regardless of your age.
“You know you will definitely walk out of the film in a fantastic mood.”
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, who also features in both Paddington and Paddington 2, was just as shocked when the news resurfaced.
He tweeted: “Until today I had no idea who provided the voice of Paddington Bear in Ukraine. Speaking for myself, thank you, President Zelenskiy [sic].”
Paddington was released in 2014 and featured talent from Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
The follow-up film was released in 2017, with Bonneville and Hawkins returning alongside Hugh Grant and Imelda Staunton.
Ben Whishaw (No Time to Die), however, plays the voice of Paddington in the English-language versions of both movies.
The president also starred in three seasons of Servant of the People as the teacher who eventually becomes president of Ukraine.
The series ended the same year that he ran and won the real campaign to become president of the country.
In recent moments, Zelensky has been praised for remaining in the country to fight on the front lines with his soldiers following Russia’s invasion, even though he has been given numerous opportunities to flee to safety with his family.