Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky won over his wife with the help of a VHS copy of a romantic thriller Basic Instinct, according to a new biography.
The couple met in high school in their hometown of Kryvyi Rih in southeastern Ukraine, but only started dating when they were at university.
Their courtship began when the comedian-turned-president approached his wife-to-be Olena Zelenska, formerly Kiyashko, while she was carrying a copy of the 1990s Hollywood hit.
In his book “Zelensky”, author and journalist Steven Derricks writes that Mr. Zelensky asked if he could borrow Sharon Stone’s film. He pretended not to have seen it when he is said to have seen the film “at least 15 times” before.
But the request gave him a window to ask for her phone number, starting a bond that has survived decades, and more recently the deadly invasion of their country by Russia.
The revelation comes as the pair are set to star in the October issue Fashiona move that has attracted some criticism from US conservatives.
In the Fashion Interviewed, Ms Zelenska reflected on what initially created a connection between them, concluding that it was the humor that built a “mutual chemistry”.
“My jokes don’t always sit well with her,” the president said. “She’s a very good editor.”
Although Mr. Zelensky was more focused on her “eyes and lips” when they first met, it didn’t take long for him to fall even harder for Elena when the two started talking.
“This is the moment when you cross the distance from love to love,” he said. “That’s what happened to me.”
The couple married in 2003 and had daughter Alexandra a year later.
In 2013, the first lady of Ukraine gave birth to their second child, her son Kyrylo.
Like many Ukrainian families, the president has been separated from his children since the war in Ukraine began in February.
Mrs. Zelenska was able to see her children, but admitted that the separation from their father was difficult for both Oleksandra and Kirill.
“I don’t even know how I would have survived those months if we were apart,” she said of her children. “[Zelensky] has a much harder time in this respect. He is suffering. And then my kids do too, because they can’t see each other.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has lasted five and a half months so far and left thousands dead, with no end in sight.
In an interview with Piers Morgan about talktv, Ms Zelenska said she hoped the challenges of war would further “unite” the couple.
“I subscribe to the theory that marriage is made stronger by challenges,” she explained.
“We’ve started to care more about each other. I think in our case, it will be the same story… I hope this challenge will make us more united.”
A version of Olena Zelenska’s interview will be published in the October issue of Vogue. “Zelensky” by Steven Derix is available from Canbury Press.