Most know her from the 2011 film “Almanya-Welcome to Germany.” Since then, Demet Gül has contributed to multiple films; “8 Seconds” and “One Hans with Hot Sauce” are certainly the best-known in Germany. She not only produced the short “The House in the Envelope,” which was nominated for the German film prize Lola as part of the omnibus film “A Quintet”, she also played the main role and was a co-writer of the screenplay.
In Turkey, she is known as “Maşuka” in the Turkish series “Ulan İstanbul.” Aside from that, Gül can be seen once a month in Munich, where she studied acting. We met with her on a sunny day in Galata (İstanbul).
Plays in which Turks in Germany act deal almost exclusively with migration topics. What do you think about that?
It is a very important topic. We need to talk about how our families came to Germany and what difficulties they had in a land that was foreign to them back then. Migration will always remain a topic, especially with all the refugees. Although I was born and raised in Germany, I am still put in the migrant box – packed full of prejudice and clichés. After so many years, I expect people to find it a little more natural. In the end, our parents were brought to this country to rebuild it. But it should also be taken for granted that we can also play German roles. There is still a conflict in our society. We need to work at it and film and theatre can be a very important tool in doing so.
What do you think of theatre education in Germany?
I studied at the state academy for performing arts “Otto-Falckenbergschule” in Munich. When you have completed your education at a state-run German theatre school, the scene really values that. I think that if you wants to become an actor – in Germany and internationally – you should definitely have training. And the German one is no bad address.
How did you end up in front of the camera?
Actually, my plan was to go to the theatre after finishing school. But during my auditions for directing I received requests to go to a casting that I hadn’t even applied for. I didn’t even have an agent. That was the casting for “Almanya – Welcome to Germany.” My first film and it was the main role.
If you compare work on the film set in Turkey with those in Germany, what differences do you observe?
The Turks are quite fast when it comes to shooting. At the same time, they don’t have enough time. For example, series that need to be as long as a feature film sometimes have to be shot withing 5 days. That was the case with the serie “Ulan İstanbul.” But my first shooting in Turkey was actually my own film. I produced it myself, wrote it with the help of the directors and played the main role. The film team was a German-Turkish mix.
My experience during that was that the Turks worked quite fast and were flexible, while the Germans concentrated on their specific tasks. Even when Turks are very busy, if they notice that there is something else to do or help with, then they finish it quickly and don’t turn it down. It doesn’t matter whose task it is. So we do a lot together.
So are you more German or Turkish in that aspect?
Every time that I came on set my colleagues smiled and said “The German discipline is here!” I pay a lot of attention to the clock. We try to complete everything within a week and that means we have to work many long hours. Shooting often lasts into the night.
How do you choose projects?
My first criterion is the scenario. Then comes the question, whether or not the character rouses my interest. Next of course is the people who I will work with. I like improvising. As an actress, I add further aspects to the character. Some directors, however, have a clear vision. I also like to work with directors who know exactly what they want and have a clear plan.
Which role was the most challenging for you so far?
It isn’t so definitive which character I play, rather, I like when I can characterise various figures. “Almanya,” as my first film is very important to me. When I heard about the film and character for the first time, I knew I wanted to play that role. Then came “Ulan İstanbul Maşuka.” Shooting was a lot of fun.
Actually, it’s fun that is the most important! Because if I’m having fun then I can overcome any difficulties.
What does the future look like for you? Will you remain in İstanbul or return to Germany?
You never know what the future will bring. But I will certainly continue working as an actress, author and producer. Currently I am commuting a lot between Germany and Turkey since I’ve got projects in both countries. For example, “Müthiş Bir Film” is coming out in theatres in a few months. The advantage of my job is that I can do it anywhere in the world.
Photos: Melis Büyükbaş