Çağatay, the ‘Philosopher King’

Those who tuned in to the third episode of “Menajerimi Ara” to watch Çağatay Ulusoy resurface on regular TV after a three years absence were in for an authentic treat. In a highly anticipated return, he appeared as a heavily bearded reclusive star, who prefers his remote wilderness hideout to the Istanbul spotlight. 

From the teaser, we expected Çağatay to play a role similar to that of Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) in “Dix pour cent,” where he portrays himself as an actor unable to shake off a WWI “Revenant”-style character from his last movie.

Jean Dujardin in “Dix pour cent”

In “Menajerimi Ara” instead, Çağatay Ulusoy pokes fun at his real-life reputation as one of the most chameleonic but unapproachable actors in Turkey. What is more, he boldly assumes the aura of an older (because of the beard) and wiser man than his age. Along the lines of a “Philosopher King” straight out of Plato’s “Republic,” he poses as a charismatic guide characterized by wisdom, intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life.

Çağatay Ulusoy in “Menajerimi Ara”, 2020

The role is a fitting one. While still young, Çağatay has indeed lived very intensely and climbed to heights seldom achieved by a Turkish actor. Back in 2013, however, Çağatay experienced a setback, when his series “Emir’in Yolu” (a spin-off of “Adını Feriha Koydum”) was abruptly canceled without a proper finale. Back then, he also had an unfortunate run-in with Turkey’s infamous justice system, which not only marked a definite turning point in his life but also took 6 long years to be resolved. At the time, the tabloid press feasted on his adversity while greatly magnifying the entity of his offense. They even misused a short film that he had made a few years prior, when he was still only a model, to contraband a false image of Çağatay as a hopeless junky.

Çağatay’s story bears significant parallels to Barış’ fictional predicament in “Menajerimi Ara.” Hence, as Çağatay proffers his advice to the young actor, viewers get the impression that, rather than reciting a script, he is talking from the heart based on his own difficult experiences with cinematic fame at the earliest stage in his career. Since then, however, Çağatay has fully learned his lesson. He has kept his nose clean. He has planned his career very wisely. He has developed cinematic skills beyond acting to become a screenwriter, a producer, and a director. And he has invested a great deal of effort in charitable causes, especially to the benefit of children.

Çağatay Ulusoy and Ahsen Eroğlu in “Menajerimi Ara”

More than that, by carefully choosing his roles, he has given life to very positive and larger-than-life characters such as Yaman Koper (“Medcezir,”) Sarp Yılmaz (“Içerde”), and Hakan Demir (“The Protector,”) who constitute not only youth icons, but also powerful role models of hard work, courage, tenacity, resilience, honesty, and responsibility. We cannot wait to see what he will do next in his new intriguing role as an Instanbul solid waste collector seeking to reunite a young child with his family, in the upcoming Netflix movie “Mücadele Çikmazi.” Without a doubt, Çağatay Ulusoy is considered as one of the most talented and revered actors of his generation, with a reputation that spans well beyond the confines of his native Turkey. 

When pressed during interviews to speak about his past indiscretion, Çağatay respectfully but firmly declines to comment. In “Menajerimi Ara,” however, he appears intent on addressing any lingering issue on the subject. To those who complain that he is a recluse, who hardly shares anything with fans, he explains that this is his way to remain sane and true to himself within the glamorous but, at times, brutal world of acting. And to those who still remember the 2013 incident, he answers through Barış’ words. Yes, he made a mistake, because he is after all human. And he is very regretful for having disappointed those who love him. Since then, however, he has tried very hard to atone for his errors and continues to be grateful for all the love and support that he receives from his fans.

And this is dear friends, how a true star declares konu kapandı — the subject is closed.

@ Article Copyright by Paola Cesarini. Based on a longer article originally published on Dizilah.com on September 10, 2020. All sources for this article are included as hyperlinks. All pictures and video clips belong to their original owners, where applicable. No copyright infringement intended.

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