Recounting her recent meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Jessica Chastain struggled to fight back the tears when discussing her “devastating” trip to Ukraine.
The Oscar-winning actress visited war-torn Ukraine earlier this year, which was documented in a one-minute video she posted to her social media accounts.
Further expanding on why she decided to go, how she got there and her experiences in Ukraine, Chastain opened up on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye actress explained that she had initially reached out to Ukrainian colleagues within the entertainment industry to tell them how sorry she was, and to find out if there’s anything she can do. A month later, they called back and asked if she’d be willing to go out to visit Ukraine.
Alongside her friend, Chastain flew into Warsaw, Poland, drove for four and a half hours, and took a 12-hour train journey until she reached the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.
“I went to Irpin, and I saw the destruction there, and met with families. I went to a children’s hospital. I met incredible people in Kyiv,” Chastain’s voice starts to waver at this point. “And it’s hard to talk about because it’s so sad what’s going on now.
“I understood how sad it would be. And I knew I had to go and, I don’t want to get emotional, but it felt like when I was meeting like the kids at the hospital, I felt, just my heart was going out to them, because there was a girl with her mom and she needed new legs, right? So that was really devastating.”
I needed a few weeks to process everything I saw from my trip to Kyiv. We landed in Poland, drove 4 hrs then took a train for another 11. I was nervous and the length of the journey gave me time to calm myself. I’m going to now start sharing with you guys what I saw. pic.twitter.com/fFsloiBwuw
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) September 1, 2022
Chastain also visited a family sharing an apartment together in Irpin, a Ukrainian city located just to the west of Kyiv. It became the site of battlefield engagement in March 2022 with hundreds of civilians reportedly being killed within the city.
“They made a beautiful lunch for me and at one point I said, ‘is that a bullet hole in the mirror?’ And then I looked at the ceiling and there were bullet holes and then I looked in the chair I was sitting at had bullet holes and there were little kids. There’s like a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, and I just don’t understand what is happening to the world.”
Chastain went on to explain that she visited the country because she feels a responsibility to use her platform to amplify stories like theirs.
She’s not the only celebrity to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. In the early days, Sean Penn was seen in the country and was later forced to flee by foot. Angelina Jolie visited the city of Lviv in April while Ben Stiller was seen in the same city in June.
Like other celebrities before her, Chastain eventually met with Zelensky. On her way to meet him she admitted that she had moments of self-doubt where she asked herself, “Should I be doing this? This feels very scary.”
“He was just so grateful,” Chastain said of Zelensky’s reaction to her visit. “He kept asking, ‘are they are they still talking about us in the press in the United States?’ He said ‘the more that the people talk about it, we really need help’ and he said, ‘we really are afraid of what’s going to happen in the fall in the winter if the electricity is cut off.’
“I think that’s what he’s been trying to do is to make sure that the world doesn’t forget about them.”
Chastain was recently in the United Kingdom to promote her new movie The Good Nurse at the BFI London Film Festival. The crime drama co-starring Eddie Redmayne is out in theaters on October 19 and on Netflix on October 26, 2022.
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