A group of North America TEN administrators travelled to Turkey earlier this month in search of dizi locations and along the way they were fortunate enough to meet with Akin Akinozu, the star of the popular Turkish series Hercai. Here is an excerpt from the article which describes their meeting with Akin. You can read part one of their article about their travels through Turkey here.
But the crowning glory came on our last night in Mardin. We had the immense pleasure of meeting with the leading star of Hercai, Akin Akinozu. Akin, who arrived smelling divine and in his favorite white shirt, is even more striking in person than on screen. He's just as animated with the same Miran-like intensity, making it indiscernible at times whether you’re speaking with Miran or Akin. Speaking fluent English with a slight American accent, Akin said he was pleased to be conversing in English as he misses it. And as we have observed from other Turkish drama actors, Akin was genuinely taken aback and pleasantly surprised to find he has a fan base in North America.
Although he's obviously aware of fans in Turkey and the Middle East, Akin said he had no idea that the series would hold appeal to North American audiences. He was curious if we understood the nuances of what is being said due to the translated subtitles. Akin was visibly thrilled to learn that his stellar acting, as well as that of the supporting cast, were most effective in conveying the messages and portraying the emotions intended by the production. Lighting up, he said, "That is the best feedback that an actor can get." Akin told us he believes the appeal of the series stems from what he calls "the magic of the yellow," referring to the limestone and the rich, golden color of the soil in the Mardin region which serves as the backdrop for the series.
There are acres upon acres of grain fields burnished by the sun and interspersed with low rise, angular habitats. Regardless of the time of day, the region is awash with shades of yellow and amber. He commented that the director spends a lot of time working with the production team to use or imitate this light in the scenes. Without this ‘yellow’ contribution, Akin feels that the series would be just another drama, and that it's the scenery and setting that give the story a phantasmal, fairy tale quality. With humility, he noted, "the real star is Mardin. I am just the story teller."
Akin, who turned 29 on September 22nd, leaves you with an indelible impression of a well-centered, composed gentleman who knows exactly what he wants. Bursting with a barely contained vitality to achieve his aspirations, he beams without an iota of shying away from the hard work. He is intelligent in spoken word, quick witted, innately humorous, as well as considerate. Unlike many of today's youth, he looked directly at each person with whom he conversed and engaged with intense concentration. Slimmer than when he first burst into our lives in the first episode of Hercai, he says the rigorous production schedule does take its toll. When asked about his workout routine, he said he exercises more to release the day's working pressures and for mental balance than to achieve a vanity goal. Some eighteen months ago he decided to forego meat, and now mostly consumes fish and vegetables. He says that for now, he has no desire to revert back and feels healthier for having made the change. When asked how he chose to pursue acting, he said he made the decision in his last year as an applied math major at UC Berkeley. As the son of an actress and the grandson of Turkey's voice of documentaries, Akin was raised among artists, so becoming an actor wasn't an alien idea. However, his parents, especially his father, didn't receive the news with enthusiasm. But Akin says he has a streak. An intent to move things his way. And his strength of will eventually convinced his parents. Now, of course, they are very proud of him.
We were intrigued as he shared his thoughts on the acting process. He explained that he is a fan of method acting, and he shared stories of Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando and other familiar western actors. He says he stays in character until a scene has been completed. He confirmed that the angsty Miran/Reyyan storyline can be emotionally draining, yet he takes it in stride and accepts it as part of his job.
When asked if he requires any artificial props for the crying scenes, he told us that he did not - unless the director required a specific aesthetic effect, for example a single drop of tear on a specific part of his face, or if were issues of continuity as filming (even within a scene) is not always sequential. We marveled when he said that if he has to cry four times in a row to complete a scene, he really cries four times in a row! Akin said he lives and breathes Miran while filming. And the long hours (sometimes 16-20 hours) and the backdrop of Mardin help him stay in character. Due to the tight filming schedule, the script is not always finalized in time to rehearse lines. As a result, Akin said it is not uncommon for him to be working on his lines into the early morning hours, even after a long day of filming past midnight. Sleep is an actor's luxury, it would seem.
We wondered how he got his current role as Miran Aslanbey in Hercai. He told us he has the advantage of being able to look completely different with very slight changes to his appearance. He had decided to change his look by cutting his hair and growing a beard and coincidentally, he was given an audition for the role of Miran. Apparently, the casting director saw him with his new look and made the decision almost on the spot. So the look that Miran has, is one Akin created as part of his screen tests. That bowl fringe - you know who to call out!
We were curious what he thought about Miran. Akin emphasized he absolutely does not condone the violence depicted against women; however, he feels it is important to portray this and bring this out to show what goes on in society, even today. Overall he is pleased with Miran as he has interpreted him. "I like him. I can identify with him," he said. “But Miran has a lot to learn about himself, and hopefully he will do just that over the course of the series."
We asked Akin what the most challenging part of his role in Hercai was. He said for him, the easiest were the lines and the acting. The most difficult was the physical working environment and the ultra long hours. He used as an example the famous bridge scenes which were completed when the climate was close to freezing. He said there were times that his hands had to be covered with make-up because they became so red with the cold!
The North America TEN team thanks Akin for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us, and very refreshing to spend the evening with a delightful man who is so talented and successful in his craft and yet remains centered and balanced.
Akin with the North America TEN team, Gunal Ensari and other guests
Permission to post excerpt from North America TEN.
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