‘Sarmasık’ actor Nadir Sarıbacak: ‘We’ve become afraid of words’

Sarıbacak, also a stage actor, had his big-screen breakthrough with his multiple award-winning performance as a muezzin who falls in love with a Catholic nurse in director Mahmut Fazıl Coskun’s 2009 debut “Uzak İhtimal” (Wrong Rosary).

His latest best actor win was at this year’s 52nd Antalya International Film Festival on Sunday, when he took home the Golden Orange prize for his role in “Sarmasık,” although sadly he made headlines as the latest victim of censorship in Turkish media as his acceptance speech was cut short on TV.

Backstage at the Antalya festival’s award ceremony, Sarıbacak spoke to Today’s Zaman about his acceptance speech, and his career in general.

In your acceptance speech in Antalya on Sunday night, you said, “Camaraderie and friendly talk is what is going to save us.” Did you prepare your speech beforehand?

Well, of course I had a general framework in mind as to what I would say, but I totally let myself go [when I took to the stage]. Right now, as a whole, this country needs to talk. We’ve been divided into thousands of pieces; civilians are being killed; soldiers and police have been killed. I wanted to say a few words about the things that keep us together. Indeed I have friends from all walks of life and the reason that I like them is because they are who they are. I just wanted to say that a heart-to-heart talk would save us, but I can’t remember how much of this I actually managed to get across.

What do you think about your speech being censored on live television?

I just wanted to speak about friendliness and thankfully I did. But I guess people in the broadcasting control room got anxious and suddenly [the cameras] cut [to another scene and loud music] so my last words were lost. It’s just that we’ve become afraid of words. Anyway, it’s okay. I don’t hold grudges against whoever it was that did it.

Until “Sarmasık,” we mostly watched you playing easygoing characters. The character Cenk you portray in “Sarmasık” is a lot different. Do you think this role will open up new doors for you in your future career?

I didn’t accept the part with that kind of result in mind. Whether on TV or in cinema, for me, each role has equal gravitas. When Tolga approached me for the film, the character Cenk really excited me; he was a curious character and was something that would be a challenge for me and certainly a part I’d very much wanted to play. … This character has helped me to shed the image that had previously stuck on me as an actor and has widened my scope.

As an actor who has worked with Karacelik both on his debut (“Gise Memuru/Toll Booth”) and his second film, how would you describe working with him?

Actually, we have worked together on four films, not two. Tolga made a short film called “Rapunzel,” which was my last short film role; after that I decided not to do short films anymore. We also worked together on the video for a song by [Turkish band] Gevende. Later on, I made a guest appearance on “Gise Memuru” and then came “Sarmasık,” but our friendship is much older.

So how does this friendship translate on screen? Do you have a better director-actor relationship or does it create tension?

It doesn’t cause trouble as long as everybody knows his limits. I personally believe that I do know my limits and I try not to cross them and over into his area. Also, it’s pretty easy to work with a filmmaker from the same generation as I am, so the friendship turns into an advantage. … Because sometimes [having to deal with] the rank of “master director” can be a little overwhelming for an actor. You cannot argue for too long with a master director.