by Paola Cesarini
After "The Protector," fans of Çağatay Ulusoy have been clamoring for the actor to take a new "romantic" role. Soon fans may get exactly what they have been waiting for. Last May, Çağatay Ulusoy verbally agreed to star as Kemal Basmaci in the screen adaptation of the famous Turkish author Orhan Pamuk's 2008 novel "Masumiyet Müzesi" (The Museum of Innocence). Like his previous works, "The Museum of Innocence" explores in lyrical terms Turkey's unending tension between the East and the West, and between tradition and modernism/secularism.
In 2006, Orhan Pamuk was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature -- the first writer from Turkey to receive such recognition. His work has sold over thirteen million books in sixty-three languages, making him the country's best-selling writer. He also is the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches writing and comparative literature.
"The Museum of Innocence" will be produced for Amazon Prime Video -- another pioneering feat by our favorite Turkish actor. Çağatay Ulusoy is also rumored to be involved as a producer along with Eric Barmak (formerly of Netflix.) The latter, who bought the rights to the screen adaptation of Pamuk's novel, apparently wanted Çağatay Ulusoy for the leading role from the start. As far as the lead female protagonist is concerned, a number of Turkish names have been mentioned. However, given the explicitly sexual content of the novel, it is possible that a foreign actress might be tapped for the role.
According to the journalist Ranini, "The Museum of Innocence" will target the global market. It will therefore be produced in English and feature international actors. With Erik Barmak at the helm, this news sounds quite reasonable. Before recently founding his own company "Wild Sheep Content," which creates content for digital platforms with filmmakers from all over the world, he was Vice President for Netflix international projects, In this role, he took an active part in the creation of the series "The Protector", in which Çağatay Ulusoy starred as Hakan/Harun. Mr. Barmak also worked on successful series as "Sacred Games," "Marseille," "Suburra," "Dark, Rain" and others.
If confirmed, this will be a completely new acting challenge for Çagatay. The character he would interpret is a privileged member of the 1970 Istanbul's upper class, who develops a romantic obsession for a poor distant relative, Füsün. In essence, Kemal is an educated men, who falls deeply in love with a beautiful woman but fails to realize how much he loves her until it is too late. And for the rest of his life he is condemned to pay his mistake with a tragic loneliness. After they fail to consolidate their torrid relationship, Kemal feeds his unhealthy longing for Füsün by collecting, over the years, objects that have marked their encounters. He eventually, establishes a Museum to exhibit them.
The Museum of Innocence exists in reality today. Conceived by Orhan Pamuk at the same time as the book, it presents what the novel’s characters used, wore, heard, saw, collected and dreamed of, all meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets.
At the Museum's inauguration, the author declared the following to The New York Times:
“As far as I know this is the first museum based on a novel. But it’s not that I wrote a novel that turned out to be successful and then I thought of a museum. No, I conceived the novel and the museum together. [...] This is not Orhan Pamuk’s museum. Very little of me is here, and if it is, it’s hidden. It’s like fiction. Both the book and the museum are largely about sadness, and in particular the “melancholy of the period.”
Given Çağatay Ulusoy's commitment to star in the upcoming TRT1 series "Barbaros", it is unlikely that filming on "The Museum of Innocence" will start before 2021. However, following his strong performance as a tormented romantic lead in "Delibal", we look forward to seeing Çağatay interpret such a complex character straight out of one of the most famous novels by Turkey's most celebrated of writers. Indeed, he will be a fabulous as Kemal!
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