He first became famous in his country as a comic actor, playing likable characters who found themselves in unlikely circumstances. Hijinks would ensue, and his acting made people laugh. Within the space of a few years, however, he would land a new role, a serious role, one that many thought he was not qualified for. The new assignment required that he be not a down-to-earth everyman, but a convincing hero charged with protecting his city and his country from evil incursions and unprovoked violence. The new role demanded that he project courage and fearlessness and unshakeable resolve.
I too was skeptical when actor Michael Keaton went from playing a hapless single dad in Mr. Mom in 1983 to being cast as the iconic brooding hero in Tim Burton’s Batman just six years later. But Keaton pulled it off. The comic actor became the caped crusader, and we were convinced.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, another former comic actor, does not wear a cape, but he is at this moment the most convincing and fearless hero on the planet. And he is not a figment of fiction. He is flesh and blood. Also, he is the underdog. Batman never dies, but Zelensky could lose his life at any moment. Yet he remains at his post, motoring around his city of Kyiv, with a special satellite phone provided by the United States so he can stay in touch.