A Turkish actor who first came to prominence in the 80s in British soap opera Eastenders, has this week won an Emmy. Haluk Bilginer received an award for Best Performance by an Actor at the 47th International Emmy Awards in New York on Monday, 25 November.
The International Emmys are for television programmes that are produced outside the United States.
Bilginer won the award for his role as Agâh Beyoğlu in Turkish series Şahsiyet (Persona). He beat Britain’s Christopher Eccleston for his role in BBC One drama Come Home, Brazil’s Raphael Logam, and Jannis Niewöhner from Germany in the process.
Gripping audiences since it was first broadcast in 2018 by Turkish entertainment channel puhutv, Şahsiyet is a 12-episode crime drama. The series has been sold to 20 countries, and is on IMDb’s ‘best serials of all time’ top 40 list.
Bilginer’s character, a retired court clerk with Alzheimer’s, who discerns some advantages of his disease in which he can execute guilty people without any fear of suffering pangs of conscience.
In his acceptance speech, Bilginer emphasised the series is about justice and memory, and continued “Make sure the society you live in doesn’t have amnesia.”
Şahsiyet’s entry trailer at the 2019 International Emmy Awards
After the ceremony, Bilginer told Anadolu Agency: ‘”I feel delighted. I am happier for Turkey receiving this award more than for myself. It is very pleasing that the work we do with love and admiration is appreciated by others on an international platform and crowned with an award.’”
One of Turkey’s most famous and highly regarded actors, the multi-award winning 65-year-old has appeared in multiple plays, musicals, movies and TV series. He also founded two theatres Tiyatro Stüdyosu and Oyun Atölyesi – as well as directing and translating many plays.
The star lived in Britain in the 1980s, where he gained a Masters from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Bilginer was cast as Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Osman, a serial rogue and brother of Ali (Nejdet Salih), in BBC’s hit soap EastEnders, featuring in many memorable story lines including pimping out females in the square and illegal gambling.
He was dubbed the ‘Terrible Turk’, and starred in the role from June 1985, a few months after the series was launched, until 1989 when his character leaves Walford to go after his estranged wife and three children in North Cyprus.
In 2014, he won Best Actor at Cannes for his role as Aydin in Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Bilginer was also one of the stars of hit Turkish TV series Ezel.