Kivanc Tatlitug: Elle Magazine 2013

ELLE Turkey- The first cover featuring a man alone, Kivanç Tatlitug in an exciting photoshoot by famous photographer Riccardo Tinelli.

We haven’t counted how many “firsts” we’ve done so far. Because every time a special piece comes up, we start thinking about the next big project. However, the March 2013 issue that you hold is the most special “first” and definitely one for the archives. It was the first time that a man was on the cover of ELLE, a one-off cover! Moreover, this man is Kivanç Tatlitug!  

I wonder how many readers wish they could have been with us for that cover shoot. Kivanç Tatlitug…. What he said, what he wore, how he made the whole team laugh, you will read all the details in these pages. We will share a “summary” of the two-day shooting on our and Facebook pages.  

We also think you will love watching the video. How famous Italian photographer Riccardo Tinelli, who did the first ELLE men’s cover, talks about the talent of Kivanç Tatlitug even though he hasn’t seen any of his shows or movies. Decide for yourself from the photographs. Nothing more to say, this special edition is for you.

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I told him “You have a common trait with Robert De Niro” and he says “C’mon…” (like trying to say “Let’s see what’s the catch”) I still say it: “I’ve heard that Robert De Niro doesn’t like giving interviews either. He says, ‘I’m an actor, you see me all the time, what are you curious about?’”

Kivanc laughs. “Well, I say the same…” Anyway, our conversation takes 2 hours. The only thing I want to add about Kivanc Tatlitug, whom we admire for his acting, that after spending 2 days for the photoshoot then having this interview afterward, is: When it comes to talking, he doesn’t know how to “act”, he just says whatever he feels like saying. Crystal clear!

When you were first offered a role and even the leading role, why did you insist on the supporting role?

Initially, I started modeling and acting to earn money. I wanted to earn my own money and take responsibility at that age. Life led me to modeling but I didn’t quite like it. Maybe it looks nice from the outside, but that wasn’t the area where I could express myself thoroughly. Honestly, I didn’t have acting on my mind. Irfan Sahin told me “We want you to become an actor.” Just as he was saying “We have the script of a tv series called Gumus. Read it, if you like it…”

I interrupted and objected, saying “Wait a minute, I’ve never acted before!” I said “Do you really believe I can be successful? Maybe it will be cancelled after 2 episodes or you’ll tell me “You have no talent.” But he told me he had faith in me and suggested 2 different roles: Mehmet and Mehmet’s cousin. He asked, “Which one would you like to portray?” and said, “One is the leading and the other is the supporting.”  

What happened then?

He wanted me to read the script and give him my decision. I went home and read. In turning the pages it was all Mehmet, Mehmet, Mehmet… Mehmet had tons of scenes. I was talking to myself “How am I going to do this? I’m going to look at that Berk character.” He had at most 10 scenes in 2 episodes. So, I thought “That I can do!”, I would start with a little role, there were also experienced actors in the cast, so I would learn from them too.

In the same series there was also, may he rest in peace, the legendary Ekrem Bora, who cannot be replaced. I decided that “If I have the talent, I can move on from here, if not, I can say thank you and forget about acting.” I told Irfan Sahin “I loved the character Berk so much, I want to play him.” He said “No, no, you’re going to play Mehmet.”

I insisted on Berk. We were like Berk-Mehmet, Berk-Mehmet and then Irfan Sahin told me “A lot of people would like to be in your shoes right now. 99 percent of the people would choose the leading role if they were offered such a project. That’s why you should play the leading role.” I like to do things perfectly. If I feel like I can’t do it, I feel ashamed and withdraw, I know. I can never forget my first scene, I was very excited.

When did that excitement lessen?

It’s still here. It hasn’t ended.

What if it ends?

If my excitement stops, I won’t do the job anymore. I’m not a man who lives his life calculating, planning and programming, or who can be forced to do something. I have to really love what I’m doing. Nothing can make me do a job that I don’t like, neither money, nor benefits. I wouldn’t do it in spite of whatever I was offered. The thing that connects me to anything is love.

That trait of yours is known by people.

I don’t know how much it is known but I’ve been like this since childhood. I have never been materialistic. Money is only needed to live a proper life, and especially for health. I want to travel, see different places, get to know different cultures. If I have enough money for these things, then there’s no person on earth that can be happier than me. Money means nothing more to me.

Some say one has the talent for acting or doesn’t. And some say one can be an actor after training. What do you think?

I try to express what I think about acting by the way I act, without speaking about it. Actually, there’s nothing much to talk about it. I really love to act. Acting is an area, apart from my family and my friends, in which I can feel happy and express myself.

there’s nothing about me to tell

We haven’t watched Butterfly’s Dream yet (at the time of this interview) however, everyone, even big actors, say that you have become a star with your role in Kuzey Guney. What has made your acting improve?

I matured. Nobody has put the raw material of acting in my brain… 9 years have passed since my first series. I’m a person who becomes happy with pretty simple things. I hate expressing myself because I believe there’s nothing about me to tell. I’m someone who feels happy while working, who doesn’t take a break from work, and I try to spend my free time with my family and loved ones. I have a dog, or rather “I have a child.” His name is Pars.

It was impossible to not notice your relationship with Pars (his dog) in the photoshoots. Did you have pets when you were a kid?

You know, I’m from Adana. I grew up in the streets. We lived in a flat but every day after school, I used to go to the enormous farm behind our apartment, I’d move every stone, and observe the insects. I love animals, every kind of creature. We always had pets at home. On one rainy day, my father came home with a newborn sheep. He had seen it in the arms of a man in the bazaar and he was shouting “I’m selling this!” He was like a cotton bud! My father had seen it and couldn’t help taking it. We opened the door and my father came in with the sheep. It was so little that it fed on a baby bottle. He said “We’ll look after him until he gets older then hand him over to a farmer friend under the condition he will not be butchered. My whole family loves animals that much.

Pars poses beautifully too. Could it be that he takes after you?

Pars is a trained dog. When he came to me, he was a pup. He’s a very clever animal. We talk with our eyes, when I look at him, he understands me. Ali Yesilirmak, who won Yetenek Sizsiniz and owns a dog named Max is a close friend of mine and the trainer of Pars. I’ve known Ali since before the competition. By the way, a huge thanks to Can Paksoy who is the owner of the Petworld Kennel Club Dog Farm, they take good care of Pars. I mean my child is in good hands. Pars is at the center of my life. Our daily life at home is like this: I’m lying on the couch, watching TV and he’s next to my feet. When we can’t see each other, we feel uneasy.

When something good happens or when you have a problem, who do you share it with?

I share everything with everyone in my family. My mom, dad, my siblings, I have a warm and sweet relationship with all of them. If we don’t talk on the phone every single day, we feel uneasy. All of my siblings are married, I’ve become an uncle to both my sister’s and brother’s children. (for the first time he laughs with such joy when he says this)

What are the biggest pros of growing up in a big family?

The biggest wealth in the world is one’s family. I’m glad that I grew up in a family with lots of children. I guess, if I marry one day, I would like to have a couple of kids. I have many friends who are the only child of their families. Whenever they come to our house, they feel like the happiest person on earth.

This is what happens in the house: There’s noise coming out from every room. Laughter, good conversations, arguments, they all happen. Every inch of the house is alive. I have a younger sister, an older sister, an older brother… If I called them or ring their doorbell at midnight, nobody would say “Why have you come at this hour? We’re sleeping.”

How come success, everyone’s attention and interest, and your position haven’t spoiled you?

It’s because of how I was raised. If I can say “Whoa, I’ve done a good job!” when I watch the movie I played in, this is the biggest treasure for me. I happen to be a person who’s been fine with less, has not been asking more, who can’t be persuaded with money since childhood. If I love something, I pursue it like a child. Without questions. Regardless of what is waiting at the end of the road, it’s enough for me to love it. It all starts when you feel like this in the smallest social circle you live in: the family. Sometimes I still can’t believe where I am at this point or what people say about me. Because I had imagined none of it.

What would you like to say about Kuzey, the character which helped you impress everyone by portraying him?

He is an interesting guy… Kuzey isn’t actually an interesting man… It is said that he is macho, a lad, but he also is one soft-hearted man that can cry. A very normal person. I love Kuzey so much.

I’m so contented with the time I spent on him. I still try to understand him. Every second of portraying Kuzey makes me feel pretty excited.  

“a poet in trouble of Butterfly’s Dream”  

Let’s talk about Butterfly’s Dream too…

A magnificent cast… Mert Firast, Belcim Bilgin, Farah Zeynep Abdullah, Ahmet Mumtaz Taylan, Taner Birsel, everyone, the whole team was amazing! Yilmaz Erdogan gifted this magnificent script, he wrote it, directed it and played in it.

Mert Firat being such an egoless, positive, cheerful person motivated me. While we were filming it, everybody in Zonguldak helped us, even the plants, animals, birds, butterflies, insects, dolphins… Behind the scenes we have had such magical moments… I mean, it’s more than a movie for us, the nature, the people embraced it. I didn’t play in a movie for years.

What have you waited for?

Nobody should get me wrong, of course, I received offers. But I wouldn’t have devoted myself a hundred percent to the movie while I was playing in a series. But I loved this story so much. For this, I’m thankful to Yilmaz Erdogan. I’m a person who is interested in literature, who reads poems a bit, and who has written poems as an amateur before.

Nonetheless, I feel a bit ashamed for not having known Rustu Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu, two internationally famous poets, but I’m happy now that I know them thanks to the movie. Their lives are a lesson. How could these people be so happy in such poverty, in a period where there’s no technology, no phones?

Don’t you like technology?

I really don’t like computers or cell phones, I believe that they only ruin my privacy. They are nothing more than just mere electronic devices. I curse the people who invented them.

Would you like to live in a different period, where this technology doesn’t exist?

I still yearn for the period where letters were written. Intensely… I have written and received many letters in the past. Fortunately, my agency receives letters from all over the world which are addressed to me. I read as much as possible and sometimes I reply to some of them. My biggest wish is to throw my cell phone away and go on a vacation where no one can find me once the series is over.

“my instinct is my greatest wealth”

It is easy to say but will you really be able to shut down your phone? We all dream of that from time to time but never can manage…

I’m happy since I can do what I dream of.

Do you trust your instincts?

A lot! I guess it is my greatest wealth. I am a Scorpio. I’m not interested in zodiac signs but as I read from the newspapers and from the things I hear around, there’s a characteristic of that sign which expresses me perfectly: Scorpio’s instincts are strong. I’m just like this: You know, when Spider Man feels danger and his surroundings completely darken…

So, when I feel tension in the air, the presence of someone I don’t like or if I feel that trouble will occur, my surroundings darken just like that, I feel it. I understand a lot looking into someone’s eyes too. Eyes don’t lie.

You also consider the people in the agency like a family…

Yes. First of all, my manager Gaye Sokmen, my PR Zerrin Ersu, then Emre, Songul, the whole team, everybody here is like my family. We’ve been together for 9 years. We’ve shared many things, good and bad, favorable and unfavorable. Apart from being with my family, the place in which I find myself most at peace is my agency. You don’t hide that you don’t like to talk too much. What is the reason for that? I talked rather too much today. Normally, I really don’t talk. I have nothing to talk about. Instead of talking about things I act on them a lot. I might have been misunderstood by people.  

A shy and hilarious man 

Do you mean that your silence might have been interpreted wrong?

Sure. Regardless of who I’ve become now, since the day I started this career, I’ve been the same shy person. People can be hesitant to reach out to me or think of me differently because of this popularity which I don’t like at all. It’s as if I have 3 hands or I came from a different realm…

Of course I don’t, I go home when my work finishes too. But I’m free to do the things that I desire to do. All my life, I haven’t had to answer to anyone except my family.

Can you really be as free as you wish? Everybody knows you, shows you interest, everybody took pictures with you during this photoshoot too.

When it all began, I had a hard time with it. I haven’t fallen from the heavens, with this maturity or I’m not lacking only wings. I had those traits that I hated and struggled to change since I thought they had to change. I’m someone who gets easily bored. I can’t contain myself even a minute when I’m bored. It’s been like that since my school years.

We are talking about an 8-9 years process You won’t even believe if I tell you how much I have been hurt in the process. For a while I tried to play the perfect guy. As you get older hearing “excellent individual, a real human”, your brain is exposed to this stuff, you try to build your life according to it. I don’t know how it looks like from the outside, but I’m not someone who is accustomed to popular culture. I only can empathize.

I haven’t ever said no to anyone who wanted to take a photo with me. Because we may never come across each other again. That person values me and may not have this opportunity again. Can I tell you, 3-4 years ago these requests used to get on my nerves…? People were coming at me while I was talking with my friend and interfering with a private moment I had with him, by asking for a photo. Nonetheless I was taking that photo but feeling angry inside. Then I realized that there’s no point in being angry. They are right as well, if it were me, I would like to take that photo too.

Do you have a memory of taking a photo with someone you admire?

I don’t. However, when I came to Istanbul in 1997, the first famous person I saw was Ekrem Bora. When I was at the 8th grade brother Ekrem, may he rest in peace, used to bring his grandchild to school. A person like him in front of me… Well, life tests us with all these things.

But you have the luxury to be free. So, I do whatever I have to, to be free. If I need to shut down my phone for it, I do it. Sometimes, even my family doesn’t call me for a month or so. If I’m on vacation or I’m very busy, even my friends won’t hear from me. This is my greatest freedom. You can’t make everyone happy. If you can grasp how you can make yourself happy -and I’ve been trying to do it for the last 2-3 years — that is enough.  

How much can you succeed in it?

Before, I used to get furious. When something negative happened, I got angry with myself, I would punish myself. I made myself feel emotionally down and hurt. But it does no good, now I know when I exaggerate, when I should keep quiet and not drag it out. Now that anger is gone. Now I don’t get easily angry unless an extreme situation occurs. I may become upset, but I have figured out that I shouldn’t be angry about situations that are trivial, or temporary.

How easily you make the people around you laugh. Due to this photoshoot we discovered your hilarious side which we didn’t know about before. Would you like to play in a comedy?

Gaye wants me to be in a comedy in 2-3 years. I only show this side of mine to the people I feel close to. It’s not a trait, I have this in my bones. However much you conceal it, one day it surfaces. People are close to me say “You should definitely play in a comedy.” I want to play in a sitcom. Who knows, maybe I will…  

I have scripted some real stories  

Would you consider working behind the cameras one day?

This is attractive to me. I’m an actor but I’m curious about everything in the “kitchen.” I like to know what tools a cinematographer uses. I ask them questions, definitely. I talk to my friends on the lighting team. What do you want to express with this background? What is the language of it? I’m very curious about the editing. The behind-the-scenes part of the job makes me excited.

I believe that I can meet the expectations on the highest level, without making anyone tired, if I can understand how things are done as much as possible. I try to do this. I should “get to know” the camera if I’m an actor. I mean to understand these kinds of things. I don’t see it like just going on set, playing my scene and going home.

Do you have other movie projects?

Of course, I have such beautiful dreams and desires about cinema. I have written 3 scripts in more or less 2 years on some real stories. One of them is still unfinished. If I have the opportunity later, I’d like to film them.

What makes you put distance, to give the cold shoulder to someone?


Would you tell it to a person who lies?

If I have a problem with the people I care about, I definitely talk about it. I would never want to build a relationship on lies with a friend, or whoever it is in my life. I tell them “You can be outspoken and tell me everything.” Because when I hear a lie, I can’t stay there anymore, I can’t be as sincere as before with that person.

What do you like in a woman, what do you appreciate?

I like women who don’t apply make-up, are natural, wear plain clothes, don’t wear huge high-heels if possible, don’t pretend to be like someone else, don’t look as if they were at the hairdresser’s at eight o’clock in the morning. I don’t like a woman or a man to be interested in their looks too much. I have respect for everyone. But this is my opinion. Make-up so light that there almost isn’t any, a natural face, simplicity is sincere and beautiful to me.

What else don’t you like?

I find the obsession for labels weird, even funny. When I see someone in famous label clothes from top to toe, it makes me question them. I love to buy second-hand clothes, especially from the shops in Europe. I don’t buy second-hand shoes, but I like the old-look style ones.

I am obsessed with shoes and leather jackets. Someone’s outfit doesn’t have to be from a famous label or very expensive, you decide its worth. It is valuable when it’s on you.  

marriage doesn’t come on demand  

Is love, someone special, necessary for you to be happy?

I feel happy with the presence of the people around me, the ones I love anyway. For me to be happy, it is enough for my family, my friends and loved ones to be by my side. If I see that Pars is sick or moody when I come home, I feel upset. If I fall apart from the things I gave my time to, that makes me upset. But I’m very fond of loneliness too.

The paparazzi want to see you married. Does your family, your mother help you to get married too?

My family, my mother and my father are very respectful in this matter too. They are not making me do anything, but they may have expectations. And they, very sensitively, would never utter them. We’ve never had such a conversation. However, of course, they would really like me to get married, to have a family, to have children. Hopefully, it will happen one day. These things are not like buying tomatoes from the bazaar, they don’t come on demand. We’ll experience whatever is written in our destiny.

Do you believe in destiny and kismet?

If I’m not wrong, ¾ of our bodies consist of water. Let me give an example: The fear of the sea for someone who doesn’t know how to swim will only push him deeper in the water, and drown him. I mean, someone who is frightened by just a picture of the sea and who doesn’t know how to swim will be drowned only because he gets in the water knowing that he will drown himself. The more you struggle the more you sink. You will have to stop struggling and let life flow. If you struggle and insist on getting somewhere, the wave takes you and drags you, crashes you and beats the hell out of you. When you loosen up you get to the place you want more easily. I’ve always believed in this.    

the world doesn’t merely consist of Hollywood    

Have you always been aware of this?  

Of course not, how could I? I’ve learned this from the struggles I’ve had to face up to now. I realized that I hit here and there, struggle too much, I get injured, I get hurt. The river is wild… Though the the place where you’re going is determined… calm down, you’ll be there after 3 stations. A force takes you to that place anyway.  

There are many people saying “He should go abroad, he would be very successful in Hollywood”. Do you have plans about this or do you think these offers will find you themselves?  

In every place of this world, the people in this industry strive to achieve something. There are many people who devote themselves to cinema, I respect them all. But I believe that the world doesn’t merely consist of Hollywood. There are many European directors who do very good work. So, I want to work with these European directors. Hollywood seems very big but I’m happy with my situation. So, an offer comes from Hollywood, so what? Do I like it? In what ways will it improve me? If I don’t like it, I don’t play in it. Hollywood, Europe, Balkans, it doesn’t matter, it only speaks one language: The script. And the director who will make it come alive and the actors he will choose. These things have to be your goal.

Do you believe that you are a very lucky person?  

Yes, I’m a very lucky person. I’m very lucky since I didn’t lose my faith to cling on to life regardless of anything.  

What did Martin Scorsese tell Kivanc?  

Kivanc Tatlitug has a very enjoyable memory of Martin Scorsese from the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and he tells us about it:   “Martin Scorsese came as the guest of honor of the festival. He is the most modest man I’ve ever seen in my life. He is a director known all around the world, the movies he filmed and his vision are indisputable. I was surprised again and again by the answers he gave to my questions. I asked him 3 questions.

First one was: What do you know about Turkey and our stories? Second one: Are there any Turkish directors and actors you know, you follow? Third one was a bit more private, I’m keeping it for myself, I don’t want to tell it.  

Martin Scorsese told me that he is curious about Turkey, that he knows things about Turkey, but he doesn’t know the actors. However, he mentioned a name and a movie, Metin Erksan and Susuz Yaz. A master and an unforgettable movie. And he also said he knows Fatih Akin.   As a Turkish man, it was impossible not to feel proud when I heard those things.

When I asked him if he has ever received offers with scripts he said “I haven’t received any offer for a project up to now. “Then I told him that we have a magnificent history that would make everyone curious. Martin Scorsese responded, “I know, one of the things I want to do the most is filming an Ottoman story.”

A special thanks to Chastity Grace and Claudia Eaton for pulling everything together.

Source: Sozcu18, 2013

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