Videos of Zelensky's Past Career Go Viral

President of Ukraine was a prolific actor, comedian, dancer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2022 1:49 AM CST
Updated Mar 1, 2022 3:47 AM CST

(Newser) – Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is a former comedian and actor, and before he led his country in a fight against Russian invaders, he voiced a well-known bear and won a well-known reality competition. Videos of both are now going viral, Deadline reports. Zelensky voiced Paddington the bear in the Ukrainian-dubbed versions of both Paddington films in 2014 and 2017, and in 2006, he won the Ukrainian version of Dancing With the Stars in its first season. "Until today I had no idea who provided the voice of @paddingtonbear in Ukraine," tweeted actor Hugh Bonneville, who appears as Henry Brown in the films, alongside a widely-shared clip of Zelensky talking about the voiceover gig. "Speaking for myself, thank you, President Zelenskiy."

Zelensky was best known for playing a teacher-turned-president in Servant of the People, a political satire that ended in 2019—the year he won the election to become an actual president, NBC News reports. He had also appeared in other Ukrainian films and TV series including The Three Musketeers in 2005 and Corporal vs. Napoleon in 2012. Succession actor Brian Cox referenced Zelensky's former career Sunday at the SAG Awards, Variety reports. "The president of Ukraine was a comic. He was a wonderful comic performer. And we should respect that," he said. "To come to the presidency was amazing. But the thing that really distressed me is what’s happening in Russia, to my fellow actors and actresses and performers and writers and critics. They are told, under pain of high treason, they cannot say a word about Ukraine. ... We should all stand together also for those people." (More on Zelensky here.)

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