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Zelensky’s Odyssey: From The Voice Of ‘Paddington Bear’ To Confronting The Russian Bear
Putin: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images Paddington Bear: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The incredible odyssey of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who now has inspired the West to unite in their opposition to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, has gone from playing the voice of the perennial children’s favorite Paddington Bear in a 2014 film to confronting the Russian bear invading Ukraine in 2022.

Born to Jewish parents in 1978 in Kryvyi Rih in east Ukraine, the grandson of a man who fought with Russia against the Nazis in World War II in a war where three of his great-uncles and his great-grandfather were killed in the Holocaust, Zelensky started acting at the age of 17.

In 1997, he created the Kvartal 95 team, which later became a comedy outfit. In 2003, Kvartal 95 started producing TV shows. In 2008, he started starring in feature films: “Love in the Big City,” “Love in the Big City,” “Office Romance: Our Time,” “Rzhevsky Versus Napoleon,” and “8 First Dates.”

In the Ukrainian dubbing of the film, he was the voice of Paddington Bear in “Paddington,” released in 2014, and “Paddington 2,” released in 2017.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Zelensky starred in the TV series “Servant of the People,” playing a high-school teacher venting against political corruption who became the president of Ukraine. In 2019, although he was initially seen as a joke candidate as he ran with a party set up by Kvartal 95, he was elected President of Ukraine with 73% of the vote. In the campaign he pledged to fight corruption and bring peace to Donbas, in southeast Ukraine.

Over the weekend, actor Hugh Bonneville, who played Paddington Bear’s foster parent Henry Brown in the films, tweeting to Zelensky, “Until today I had no idea who provided the voice of @paddingtonbear in Ukraine. Speaking for myself, thank you, President Zelenskiy. #PaddingtonBear.”

He added this tweet:

The beloved character of Paddington Bear was created by British author Michael Bond and first seen in the 1958 book “A Bear Called Paddington.” He has been featured in over 20 books, with his old hat, battered suitcase, and duffel coat. The goodhearted Paddington almost always addresses people respectfully, calling them “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Miss” rather than use their first names and often innocently winds up in trouble.

When the film was released in 2014, the Paddington Trail was launched in London. In November and December 2014, 50 Paddington statues were set up in London and surrounding areas close to museums, parks, shops and key landmarks.

In an impassioned, emotional speech to members of the European Union on Tuesday, Zelensky received a standing ovation as he pleaded for acceptance to the EU, declaring, “Do prove that you indeed are Europeans and then, life will win over death, light will win over darkness.” As the members of the EU applauded, Zelensky raised his fist in a gesture of hope.

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