Other Actors

Who is Nik Xhelilaj? (Emanet – Poyraz)

Written by Turkish Buzz

Handsome actor Nik Xhelilaj was brought in to replace Halil İbrahim Ceyhan in the role of Yaman Kırımlı in the series “Emanet.” As the new lead in the show, curiosity surrounded his identity.

Here is a comprehensive look at Nik Xhelilaj from A to Z.

Nik Xhelilaj was born on March 5, 1983, in Albania. He has one sister. His real name is Kreshnik Xhelilaj. At the age of 14, he came to Istanbul for military high school. He started attending Kuleli Military High School but returned to Albania after 7 months, giving up his military career. His age as of 2023 is 40, and his zodiac sign is Pisces. He stands at a height of 1.88 meters and weighs 85 kilograms. He is currently single.

After being selected as Europe’s Promising Actor at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, Nik Xhelilaj turned his focus towards Turkey. Following his rise to popularity with the character ‘Kadir’ in the series “Kayıp Şehir” (Lost City) in 2012, he ventured to Germany and expanded the boundaries of his fame with the film ‘Winnetou.’ Later, his path led him back to Turkey. Last Friday, he starred in the film ‘Zer,’ written and directed by Kazım Öz, which was released in theaters.

Nik Xhelilaj mentioned that he eats simit (a Turkish pastry) every time he visits Istanbul.

What is the story of ‘Zer’?

We are talking about a film that follows the story of Jan, who comes from New York to Turkey in 1938, tracing the tale of the Dersim folk song. Jan’s life takes a different direction thanks to the folk song sung by his grandmother, who was brought to New York for cancer treatment.

Realizing his hidden identity within the song, Jan decides to go to Dersim after losing his grandmother. The film narrates the journey where Jan explores his roots and follows the traces of suppressed societal traumas.

As a person of Albanian origin, portraying a character who traces the path of the Dersim folk song had a profound impact on me. Being able to shed light on the lives of thousands of individuals who have faced great hardships in the past, regardless of their background, was incredibly meaningful to me.

The film “Zer” conveys an important message about how people with different perspectives can coexist. This film took a significant step in creating awareness about cultural and ethnic differences and demonstrating that everyone can live together in harmony.

Visiting Dersim, how did you feel?

Visiting Dersim was enchanting. When I looked around, it was impossible not to be moved by the beauty of this region. When asked how I found Dersim, I responded, “This region is so beautiful that it’s nearly impossible not to love the people here.” Being a part of this true, lived story was truly enjoyable for me.

Turkish Women’s Affection for Their Homes: A Different Perspective

As an observer who has spent a total of 2.5 years in Turkey during different periods, I’ve gathered notable observations about Turkish women. Each Turkish woman possesses a unique beauty and allure. Drawing from the experiences I’ve gained during this time, I can confidently say that Turkish women are both diligent and deeply devoted to their families, homes, and husbands.

Nik Xhelilaj also gained significant attention for his portrayal of the Byzantine commander Yorgos in the series ‘Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu’ (Awakening: The Great Seljuks).

Appearing on the TRT 1 channel with the series ‘Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu,’ Nik Xhelilaj shares his feelings about this experience. He expresses that this opportunity has filled him with incredible excitement. When he wears the costumes and takes part in the scenes, he mentions feeling pride and enthusiasm. Moments on horseback, in particular, evoke a completely different emotion in him.

Xhelilaj enthusiastically talks about going to the set with great joy, highlighting the harmony he feels from having worked with this team before. Additionally, he enjoys portraying a Byzantine character. Positive feedback and comments from viewers make him happy. With a playful nod to a humorous comment, he shares how he laughed at a comment that said, “Brother, leave Byzantium and join our Seljuks.” He emphasizes that such comments motivate him.

Portraying the Byzantine Commander Yorgos: Role Preparation and Interest in History

When asked about how you prepared for the role of the Byzantine Commander Yorgos, you mentioned: Yorgos, the backbone of Byzantium and even of Kuvel Castle, could be described as the best and most ruthless warrior. Since action scenes are intense and our aim is to portray this realistically and powerfully, I worked extensively with the action team on Yorgos’s Byzantine-style combat. I derived immense pleasure from every moment of this process. In addition to the action scenes, these rehearsals continue before shooting.

Who is Nik Xhelilaj? (Emanet - Poyraz)
Who is Nik Xhelilaj? (Emanet – Poyraz)

Regarding your relationship with history and whether you’ve had an interest in it before, you responded: My first project was actually a historical film called ‘The Sorrow of Madam Snajderova.’ I portrayed a story that extended from Albania to Prague; I played a young character who received cinema education in the 1960s. After this experience, I started feeling more comfortable in historical projects. I’ve always been drawn to how people in the past led their daily lives, their way of speaking, costumes, and settings.

On whether an actor’s awards determine their success, you stated: No, I don’t think so. Winning awards doesn’t define an actor’s success. Especially considering the state of the industry in recent years, getting a role, participating in successful auditions, and being involved in a project are actually the greatest rewards.

Diverse Experiences: Festival Films and the Nuances of Acting

We’re curious about your perspective on what it’s like for an actor to be involved in both popular productions and festival films.

Festival films hold great significance in my career. For instance, we participated in many festivals with the film “The Albanian.” During this process, I had the opportunity to meet casting director Harika Uygur at the Berlinale Film Festival. Her influence played a significant role in my entry into the TV and film industry in Istanbul.

I take pride in saying that Turkey has become my second home. Festival films offer the chance to communicate with people and build relationships. Thanks to the professional connections I established at film festivals, I even learned two foreign languages.

You came from Albania to Turkey. Could you tell us about how your acting journey in Turkey began?

Around a year after meeting Harika Uygur at Berlinale, I received an offer to act in the film “Üç Yol” (Three Paths). After this film experience, when we returned to Istanbul, my manager and I went to Tomris Giritlioğlu’s office. After a roughly 10-minute conversation, she said, “You are Kadir’s son,” and within an hour, she sent the contract, allowing me to join the series “Kayıp Şehir” (Lost City). This experience holds a special place for me.

What do you do in your free time?

I really enjoy traveling in my free time. I had this passion since childhood; I would sometimes feel trapped at home and sneak away to my uncle’s without notice. Being alone has always brought me happiness. Although the current period might seem challenging, I am particularly pleased to have come from Berlin to Istanbul for this profession.

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