Haluk Bilginer

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Nihat Haluk Bilginer
Haluk Bilginer.jpg
Bilginer in 2005
Born (1954-06-05) 5 June 1954 (age 63)
İzmir, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Occupation Actor
Years active 1978-present
Spouse(s) Zuhal Olcay (1992–2004)
Aşkın Nur Yengi (2006-2012)
Children Nazlı Bilginer (born 2006)

Nihat Haluk Bilginer (Turkish pronunciation: [haˈluk bilɟiˈneɾ]; born 5 June 1954) is a Turkish actor. In addition to his acting career in Turkey, he has also worked in the United Kingdom and remains best known for his role as Mehmet Osman in the television soap opera EastEnders during the 1980s. He has also starred in Hollywood movies as a minor actor. He played a villainous guerrilla leader in the 1987 comedy film Ishtar (one of the most notorious flops in movie history) and a Turkish Mafioso in the 2001 dark comedy film Buffalo Soldiers. He played the character of Emre Celenk in the episode of Persephone in Spooks 2004.

Life and career[edit]

Bilginer was born in İzmir, Turkey. He graduated from Ankara State Conservatory in 1977 before going to England[1] where he graduated from London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He landed his first role at EastEnders.

Eastenders (1985–1989)[edit]

Bilginer makes his first appearance in Eastenders as Mehmet Osman on-screen in June 1985, four months after the show originally aired. His arrival coincides with a cot death storyline of Sue and Ali's baby, Hassan. Mehmet appears as a recurring character from 1985–1987, setting up a cab firm named Ozcabs from inside Ali's café; however, he becomes a regular in 1988, when both he and his wife Guizin (Ishia Bennison) are made partners in Ali's café, which is renamed Café Osman.

Mehmet is portrayed as a charmer, a rogue and a womaniser. Author of The EastEnders Handbook, Hilary Kingsley, has said of him, "he tries it on with every woman he meets and sometimes succeeds through a combination of good looks and sheer audacity." A serial gambler, Mehmet was shown to steer Ali into various money-losing ploys, and had a combustible marriage to Guizin, who put up with his philandering, as in the Turkish community, that's "what a wife was expected to do".

Described as "the Terrible Turk", Haluk Bilginer was one of the more popular male cast members on EastEnders during the 1980s, and he reportedly received sackfuls of fan mail, "despite playing a villain and a womanising snake". Hilary Kingsley has said that what made the character so popular was Bilginer's Omar Sharif-style good looks and charm. Following the departure of Holland and Smith, Mehmet was eventually written out of the serial in May 1989, in a storyline that signified the disbandment of the Osman family. On-screen, Mehmet returns to his native Cyprus after a fight with Guizin regarding her suspicions about Mehmet's fabricated affair with Sue. The Osman family were among many characters to leave the serial that year. Writer Colin Brake has commented, "the pace of comings and going was fast and furious during 1989, as the programme tried to find a new direction." Bilginer went into musical theatre after leaving EastEnders.

After Eastenders[edit]

During the course of the show, he came to Turkey to star in the 1987 TV series Gecenin Öteki Yüzü (The Other Side of the Night), where he met his eventual first wife Zuhal Olcay, famous Turkish actress and singer. After dividing his time in London and Istanbul for six years, he left the show to stay in Turkey permanently and married Zuhal Olcay in 1992. He guest starred in an episode of Young Indiana Jones as İsmet İnönü, and went on to star in the Yavuz Özkan film "İki Kadın" (Two Women). He then starred in various movies including the controversial Istanbul Kanatlarımın Altında (Istanbul Under My Wings) and the famous Usta Beni Öldürsene (Master, Kill Me). After critical acclaim for these roles, he earned his first award as a supporting actor in Masumiyet (Innocence).

After deciding he wants to pursue career on stage, he founded "Tiyatro Stüdyosu" (Theatre Studio) with his wife Zuhal Olcay and Ahmet Levendoğlu in 1990. After starring in various plays for six years, he had to return to screen in 1996 because of a fire that has destroyed the theater. He and his wife starred in television and movies to raise money to found another theater. During this era, he starred in Eyvah Kızım Büyüdü (Oh My, My Daughter Has Grown), starting his second era in television. After years of work, he and his wife managed to start a second theater, called "Oyun Atölyesi" (Play Workshop).

His most famous role however came after he started his second theater. He landed a role in Tatlı Hayat, a remake of The Jeffersons. He played the role of İhsan Yıldırım, an angry, racist and foul-mouthed, yet lovable dry cleaner. He was accompanied by legendary actress Türkan Şoray, who played his wife, Asuman Dabak playing the witty cleaner, Neco playing the Greek neighbor (The enmity between Greeks and Turks were put instead of the Black-White one in the original) and Çolpan İlhan playing Neco's wife. He and the show's breakthrough character İrfan (played by Celal Kadri Kınoğlu) are regarded as the best characters in Turkish TV history. He divorced Zuhal Olcay in 2004 and began a relationship with Aşkın Nur Yengi, a famous Turkish singer. They married in 2006 and had a girl.

After Tatlı Hayat, he starred in Neredesin Firuze (Where Are You Firuze?), Hırsız Var (Thief!) and Hacivat Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü? (Why Were Hacivat&Karagöz Murdered?). His most recent role in Polis (Police) however, is his most critically acclaimed role after Tatlı Hayat. His portrayal of the troubled police legend Musa Rami has gained critical acclaim from both critics and viewers, who thought the movie was too experimental. Bilginer, however, has said that he will work in all of Onur Ünlü's (screenwriter and director of Polis) movies, even as an extra if required.

Bilginer played the role of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in an İş Bank commercial, which first aired on 10 November 2007 during the 69th commemorations of Atatürk's death. In 2009 , He play in famous Turkish soap Ezel during the second season . He became famous with this role around arab world .

Bilginer co-starred in the 2009 American thriller The International as Ahmet Sunay, a Turkish high-tech missile guidance system dealer. He was accompanied by Clive Owen and Naomi Watts in this movie.

Bilginer plays Aydin, an imposing grey-haired former actor, in Winter Sleep, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.

Personal life[edit]

He first came to İstanbul for filming TV series Gecenin Öteki Yüzü (The Other Side of the Night) for the first time in 1987 and met with Zuhal Olcay in this film set. He married Zuhal Olcay in 1992 and they divorced in 2004. Haluk Bilginer married Aşkın Nur Yengi in 2006 and has a daughter named Nazlı from this marriage. In 2012, he was divorced with Aşkın Nur Yengi.



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Half Moon Street First Arab
1987 Ishtar (film) Guerrilla leader
Lionheart Merchant
1996 Istanbul Beneath My Wings Evliya Celebi
1997 Masumiyet Bekir Best Supporting Actor won Golden Orange at International Antalya Film Festival
Won Jean Carment Award at Angers European First Film Festival
1999 The Raindrop
Harem Suare
2000 Beans The imaginary old man
2001 Elephants and Grass
2001 Buffalo Soldiers The Turk
2004 Where's Firuze? Hayri
2004 She's Gone (TV) Inspector Yilmaz
2005 Robbery Alla Turca
2008 Cars of the Revolution
Son of the Sun
2009 The International Ahmet Sunay
2010 Five Minarets in New York Hadji
2011 W.E. Mohammed Al Fayed
2012 The Reluctant Fundamentalist (film) Nazmi Kemal
2014 Rosewater Baba Akbar
2014 Winter Sleep Aydin Best Actor won FIPRESCI Prize at Palm Springs International Film Festival
the film won the Palme d'Or and the FIPRESCI Prize
2016 Ben-Hur Simonides
2017 The Ottoman Lieutenant Halil Bey In post-production
2017 Trendy Hasan In post-production
2017 Refuge Ahmet In post-production

TV Series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Glory Boys Arab Driver
1985-89 Eastenders Mehmet Osman
1985 Bergerac (TV series) Ahmet Episode "Avenge O Lord"
1991 Memories Of Midnight (TV Mini Series) Dino Mattusi
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Colonel Ismet Bey Episode "Palestine, October 1917"
1999 The Bill Guest Star/Olly Episode "The Three Sergeants"
2001 Tatlı Hayat Ihsan Yıldırım Tatlı Hayat Turkish TV Series, a remake of The Jeffersons
2004 Spooks Emre Celenk Episode "Persephone"
2010-11 Ezel (TV series) Kenan Birkan
2016 New Blood John Malik 2 episodes


  1. ^ "Haluk Bilginer". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 

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