While shooting his new documentary Superpower about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sean Penn took Ukrainian soldiers to see a screening of Top Gun: Maverick.
The movie that Steven Spielberg claimed “saved Hollywood’s ass” was part of a morale-boosting mission for the young men and women tasked with defending their homeland. As Variety reports, after the showing Penn recruited his friend, Maverick star Miles Teller, to speak with the soldiers over FaceTime.
It’s a small subplot of Superpower, which Penn initially conceived as a profile of actor-turned-politician Volodymyr Zelenskyy, former comedian and current President of Ukraine. In the documentary, Penn repeatedly expresses doubts that Russia would actually invade, before unexpectedly finding himself on the front lines of the 21st century’s defining geopolitical conflict. He was forced to flee by walking to Poland but eventually returned, traveling to Ukraine a total of six times and becoming close with Zelenskyy, even gifting him an Academy Award.
Superpower premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on February 17th, where it was received with a standing ovation. Afterwards, Zelenskyy called in to speak to the crowd and urge support for Ukraine, and his comments were echoed by Penn. “It’s not so much about what if Ukraine loses, because they won’t,” Penn told the audience. “If Russia wins, we are all fucked. Just dead-set fucked. As Americans, I can say we’re going to have to take on board a level of shame for not having scaled up sooner with the weapons.”