news Ben Stiller and Sean Penn Among Americans Newly Banned from Russia

Ben Stiller and Sean Penn won’t be making movies in Russia any time soon.

On Monday, the country’s foreign ministry announced a list of 25 Americans — “high-ranking officials, representatives of the business and expert communities, as well as cultural figures” — who have been permanently barred from entering Russia. The list comes in response to the still-escalating international tensions brought on by Russia’s hostile invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Stiller and Penn independently spoke out against Russian president Vladimir Putin in recent months. A representative of the UN Refugee Agency, Stiller spent World Refugee Day (June 20) with Ukrainian refugees currently living in Poland. The Emmy-winning writer-director-actor then met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, at one point telling the embattled leader, “You’re my hero.”

Penn began filming a documentary for Vice about the war in Ukraine in June, having visited the previous fall to prepare a production plan should the worst occur.

The two-time Academy Award winner said in a statement at the time: “Already a brutal mistake of lives taken and hearts broken, and if he doesn’t relent, I believe Mr. Putin will have made a most horrible mistake for all of humankind.” (In the weeks leading up to the 94th Academy Awards, Penn also threatened to “smelt” his Oscars if Zelensky was not invited to speak.)

23 other names appear alongside Stiller’s and Penn’s, including those of United States senators Mark Kelley, Kevin Kramer, Rick Scott, Krysten Sinema, and Pat Toomey, as well as trade officials, such as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

On its website, Russia’s foreign ministry states these strategic “stop” orders are in keeping with the country’s “principle of reciprocity.”

The statement continues: “The hostile actions of the American authorities, which continue to follow a Russophobic course, destroying bilateral ties and escalating confrontation between Russia and the United States, will continue to be resolutely rebuffed.”

Morgan Freeman and Rob Reiner appeared on a stop list of 963 other Americans banned back in May. That order also targeted top-ranking government officials, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as well as numerous journalists and politicians (some of which had already died: a key detail Russian intelligence managed to miss).

Representatives for Penn and Stiller did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment. No word yet on Russia’s plan for the whole of the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards, which collectively gave Putin the finger in March.
 
Sean Penn. Pfff. He's one guy I'd like to fight.. I'm not even a fighter but for some reason, I would love to put on the gloves just to see what would happen.
 

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