Celebrities in Ukraine from Angelina Jolie to Ben Stiller, Sean Penn and Jose Andres

The famous faces who continue to help refugees, raise money and push politicians to stop the war

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Ben Stiller, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain are among the celebrities who have visited Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

The list also includes Spanish-American chef and restaurateur Jose Andres, who has been on the ground feeding Ukrainians along the borders as part of his World Central Kitchen humanitarian organisation.

Many of the A-listers headed to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the country's department of defense has thanked those "who, despite the danger, have visited us".

While Andres has a clear mission, others want to raise awareness of the nation's plight.

Other stars have helped from afar, such as Hollywood power couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who also created a GoFundMe, which raised almost $37 million for refugees earlier this year. Kunis was born in Ukraine and moved to the US when she was 7.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch hosted a refugee family in his home, while Leonardo DiCaprio donated $10 million, with many other celebrities donating money to various charities.

Here we take a look at the efforts some of these stars have made in Ukraine.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn has been among the most vocal Hollywood stars. The day after Russia invaded Ukraine, the 21 Grams actor travelled there to continue work on a documentary about the war.

The Office of the President in Ukraine confirmed Penn had attended press briefings, met with Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk and spoken to journalists and military personnel about the war.

Days later, he found himself among thousands of refugees fleeing to Poland, joining the exodus on foot.

Penn, 61, posted a photo of himself on Twitter wearing a backpack and wheeling luggage along a road beside a line of cars stretching into the distance.

In March, he also made headlines again when he said he would destroy his Oscars if Zelenskyy is not invited to speak at the Academy Awards (he wasn't, and he didn't as far as we know).

Jose Andres

Since early on in the crisis, Andres has been going to Ukrainian borders to help feed refugees as part of his non-profit World Central Kitchen, which won benefitted from a $100 million Jeff Bezos grant the chef won in 2021 for his humanitarian work. The organisation has served millions of meals so far.

On Thursday, he tweeted a photo of himself with Zelenskyy, writing: "Good meeting today about the Humanitarian work of @WCKitchen in @ukraine helping displaced+refugees since day one of this war.

"He [Zelenskyy] thanked the more than 5k Ukrainians bringing hope one plate of food at the time #ChefsForUkraine 130 million meals! Ukrainians feeding Ukrainians!"

Angelina Jolie

The actress and the UN's special envoy for refugees is a well-known humanitarian, so it's perhaps no surprise she was among the first to head to Ukraine.

In April, Angelina Jolie visited the city of Lviv, popping into a bakery and going to the railway station to meet some of the people displaced.

Jolie spoke to victims at the Kramatorsk railway station following missile strikes in April. EPA

During the visit to the station, Jolie met volunteers, who told her how each of the psychiatrists on duty spoke to about 15 people a day.

"They must be in shock … I know how trauma affects children, I know just having somebody show how much they matter, how much their voices matter, I know how healing that is for them," she said.

She also posed for photos with the volunteers and some of the children.

Ben Stiller

In June, Ben Stiller, who's not only a comedy actor but also a humanitarian envoy, met with refugees and officials in Ukraine, including Zelenskyy, as part of his visit on World Refugee Day.

“It’s a great honour for me,” Stiller said to the Ukrainian president during a meeting in Kyiv. “It’s really wonderful. You’re my hero.”

The Zoolander star is a goodwill ambassador for the UN and had earlier visited Ukrainian refugees in Poland, saying he wanted to stand in solidarity with those in Warsaw and worldwide.

"Everyone has the right to seek safety. Whoever, wherever, whenever," he said.

Liev Schreiber

In May, Ray Donovan star Liev Schreiber, who has Ukrainian roots, met people in bomb shelters and co-founded BlueCheck Ukraine, a group looking to vet and fast-track financial support to non-governmental organisations.

He went to Lviv, but said he only told his immediate family he'd been after he returned, knowing "I was much safer than they would think I was", according to Screen Daily.

He discussed his new fundraising network at Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Prague last month. “I went with the expectation that I’d have a gigantic garbage bag and would just fill it with money, because I was raising for Ukraine,” he said. “What actually happened is people approached me and asked how they could file for donations from BlueCheck.”

Jessica Chastain

Last week, actress Jessica Chastain met Zelenskyy in Kyiv and visited a children's hospital.

Her visit came as the White House and the UN called on Russia to halt military operations near nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy thanked Chastain for her support in a Telegram post. “For us, such visits of famous people are extremely valuable,” he wrote.

“Thanks to this, the world will hear, know and understand the truth about what is happening in our country even more.”

Chastain's trip comes after the Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska, pleaded with members of US Congress to send more military aid to her country. Zelenskyy's wife shared stories of women and children killed by Russian forces to make clear the brutality of the war.

Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the latest photos from Ukraine

Updated: August 12, 2022, 8:22 AM
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