Volodymyr Zelensky breaks down in tears as he visits Bucha
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Mr Zelensky will address both houses of the Irish parliament today as war in Ukraine continues to rage on. He accepted the invitation from speaker Seán Ó Fearghail to make the virtual address, having also made speeches to a number of other parliaments across the West since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Last weekend, the Ukrainian president even made a surprise address at the Grammy’s award ceremony.
In a pre-recorded message, Mr Zelensky told the assembled musicians to use their voice to demand an end to the war, stating: “Anything but silence”.
He added that he “dreamed” that those living in Ukraine could be as free as the performers onstage, and likened Putin’s invasion to a silence that has extinguished the dreams and lives of his country’s people.
Mr Zelensky has received widespread admiration for his war-time leadership, and has remained the global face of Ukraine as the war protracts.
However, before the brutal conflict, Mr Zelensky was an actor who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star.
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He worked as a standup and television actor, and even continued to perform his comedy while campaigning for office in 2019.
Ironically, he was also the star of ‘Servant of the People’, a comedy following the life of a disillusioned teacher who becomes Ukrainian President.
In 2019, after a conversation with then-US President Donald Trump, Mr Zelensky asserted that Ukraine had a “very good relationship with the US”, and even revealed his former ambitions as an actor.
Then, speaking to CNN in that same year, Mr Zelensky confessed that he had always wanted to make it big in the US.
He said: “I want to thank the President and the USA and ordinary American people for supporting Ukraine, especially now when we have war [referring to the Donbas and Crimea].
“Thank you for your help. We feel it, feel it with our hearts, with our body.
“In my previous profession when I was a producer, scriptwriter and actor, I wanted to get an Oscar.
“I wanted to be popular in the USA. Now I am very popular in the USA.
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“If this way will help Ukraine, I am ready for the next call with Mr Trump.”
Mr Zelensky’s first acting credit was a 2005 ‘Three Musketeers’ movie in which he played the role of D’Artagnan.
A year later, he competed on the Ukrainian edition of Dancing with the Stars, which he won.
Though Mr Zelensky never broke into the US market, he did perform the voice of Paddington Bear in Ukrainian dubs of the live-action films Paddington and Paddington 2.
His strength as an orator has served as an important tool in the face of Russian aggression.
After the Kremlin ordered the attack on Ukraine world leaders were deliberating over what form of sanctions to implement against Russia.
EU leaders immediately joined an EU emergency summit to debate what sorts of measures the bloc should take.
Mr Zelensky’s calls for the harshest measures, according to the Washington Post, stalled in the face of scepticism from some EU leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
But, when he joined the call via a video link, his impassioned five-minute speech insisting that the West support the Ukrainian cause as much as possible is said to have caused the tide in the room to shift.
A European official briefed on the call told the Washington Post: “It was extremely, extremely emotional.
“He was essentially saying, ‘Look, we are here dying for European ideals.’”
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