NA TEN Exclusive, On Netflix, Turkish Actors

Meet Emir Ali Doğrul: Child Actor On The Rise

by mh musings, Editor, North America TEN

In his debut role for Netflix, young actor Emir Ali Dogrul plays Ali in the movie Paper Lives, a story that looks at a slice of life lived on the streets. Ali is an abused and abandoned child, and through his experiences and his symbiotic relationship with Çağatay Ulusoy’s Mehmet, we get heart-wrenching insights into the lives of forgotten children living on the streets of Istanbul. With soulful expressions that capture his fear and hesitation before he can trust an adult, nine year old Emir’s performance is laudable and memorable.

Throughout his four year career, he has been a part of some dizis and a BluTV series, but the experience of being in a full length movie remains a defining experience.

Playing Ali in Paper Lives

By peer standards, Emir is already a seasoned actor. His parents discovered his talents early and enrolled him with the Izmir Guzeli Actors Agency when he was only six years old. The agency is well known for representing up and coming child actors, and more. By the time he was cast in Paper Lives, he was nine years old and up for the challenge of a complex role. He met with the director Can Ulkay, and the rest of the team, before being selected for the role out of more than a hundred applicants and after multiple auditions. One of the scenes he had to test for is an argument with Çağatay’s character, which is an intense scene in the movie.

An argument between Mehmet & Ali in Paper Lives

His talent and hard work paid off, embarking him on his first movie role.

To date, Ali in Paper Lives is his most interesting character. He says, “There were both funny and dramatic scenes. I tried to do what was asked from me precisely since my role in the movie was intense and hard. Sometimes I had worries about doing it right. However, after an involved but enjoyable training with an acting coach and a psychologist, it ended up in a beautiful work.”

And it did indeed result in a beautiful work. A direct release on Netflix in March 2021, Paper Lives was on trending lists for several weeks and remains the best performing Turkish movie on the platform to date. With unexpected twists in the story, the relationship between the characters of Mehmet and Ali are deceptively deep. It is only at the end of the movie that one fully appreciates the actors’ nuanced portrayal of multifaceted roles connected to each other in mysterious ways.

Emir’s chemistry with Çağatay Ulusoy, with whom he shares the most screen space, is evident in every scene. Emir says, “Çağatay Abi was very well prepared for the role, and he helped me on the set. We got along very well during our month long schedule. I enjoyed working with Çağatay Abi very much.”

When asked about his most challenging scene, he says he got very cold when they had to swim in the sea. Even as the audience, we could tell the difficulty of the scene as his lips look quite purple! Suffering for the sake of a role has started early for Emir.

We also wondered about his favorite scene(s) in the movie and why he liked them. Emir says, “I think the scenes we shot on the streets of Istanbul, with music in the background, and the scenes we shot at the skateboard rink were very entertaining.”

Mehmet & Ali at the graffiti ridden skating rink

Dizis versus Movies

On set with Barış Arduç for Kuzgun

International dizi audiences who have been watching the genre for some time are aware of the challenging schedules the cast and crew maintain to deliver a 2.5 hour show every week. We were curious about Emir’s experience of working on dizis and how it compares to the experience he had with Paper Lives. He says, “Since there are predetermined schedules for movie and commercial projects, they are not a problem with maintaining my school commitments. But when longterm series’ collide with school time, it is hard to handle both. Sometimes I need to work extra to keep it balanced.”

Emir is now confirmed to take part in Süslü Korkuluk, an embattled upcoming TV series starring Çağatay Ulusoy and Esra Bilgic that has finally assured a home on Netflix. Announced by TV8 at the end of 2021 through a short teaser, news broke a few weeks later that the production company OGM Pictures had failed to reach an agreement with the channel on the distribution of Süslü Korkuluk. Netflix has picked it up and filming is supposed to start in the summer.

First reading took place last week, with an ensemble cast that features some of the finest in Türkiye. Co-starring with Cagatay is Esra Bilgiç, Salih Bademci, Engin Şenkan, Olgun Şimşek and more. With Emir’s appearance in the series, it will be wonderful to see him return with Çağatay on screen, backed by the same production company and streaming platform as for Paper Lives.

In between filming, these days Emir enjoys the typical lifestyle of a ten year old. He is inspired by Tom Holland and his movies, and would someday like to be in the leading role in a children’s movie. He also awaits his opportunity to be a part of an international digital project.

With the dedication and natural talent he has portrayed through his roles thus far, it is only a matter of time before he makes his place on the international stage. We wish him luck and look forward to his growing body of performances. His start has been nothing short of impressive.


Article copyright (c) North America TEN & mh-musings/ @entrespire, twitter

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