Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed to have voiced Paddington in local dub

Image via StudioCanal

Adding to the list of feats that has sent Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s popularity online soaring this past week is the revelation that the former actor and comedian voiced the titular bear in the Russian-language dub of Paul King’s 2014 film Paddington.

The current commotion around the dub of the films based on Michael Bond’s British children’s books follows viral footage of Zelenskyy’s run on Ukraine’s Dancing with the Stars in 2006. 

Brushing past that, The Hollywood Reporter reports that the current conversation followed writer and producer Franklin Leonard’s tweets about the casting.

Some saw the role as “fitting” for the current situation, explaining the connection between WWII’s refugee crises and Bond’s novels, while others condensed that all down to memes.

British actor Hugh Bonneville, the English voice of the character, even shared footage of Zelenskyy’s performance, while offering thanks to the president. 

This all culminated in a political cartoon-styled image from Twitter user @christhebarker, who posted an image of a small Paddington clad in a yellow bucket hat and blue raincoat (colors of Ukraine’s flag), confronting a large bear representing Russia. 

While Zelenskyy’s heroics in the besieged capital city Kyiv have heightened his internet celebrity, the politician is already familiar with viral fame. His popularity online was part of his successful vault into politics in 2019, when he pivoted from acting to the presidency. 

A 2019 Guardian article which detailed his rise from a comedian in the early 2000’s to then presidential-frontrunner called the internet-driven career turn “a gag worthy of an Armando Iannucci screenplay.” The article also notes his casting in Paddington.

Zelenskyy, elected the 6th president of Ukraine in 2019 by a near-supermajority, has not previously held public office.