As you read this conversation between Cem Yılmaz and Ozan Güven, you might find it difficult to understand when they’re giving each other a hard time, when they’re being serious, how humble they are, how profound their appreciation for one another is or how their friendship is built on trust and support. While taking a look, please keep in mind bursts into laughter, sarcastic remarks, and a comfort only two people who truly know one another could have around a table. Enjoy the show.

Text: Alara Kap | Photography by Zeynep Özkanca | Grooming by Önder Tiryaki

Cem: Then we’ll begin talking?

The theme was night time right?

What time did you sleep last night?

Ozan: I slept at two thirty last night.

Cem: That could be considered early. When they mentioned night, I thought of this; you know there is such a thing as night life!

Ozan: Hmmm?

Cem: Actually when you mention nightlife you first think of… Entertainment.

Ozan: I think of…

Cem: Both you and I… However when people think about it they think of having fun at night, however that’s not what I think about!

Ozan: Personally, think of me as an average citizen, I think of Cem Yılmaz when one mentions nightlife.

Cem: Why is that!!!!

Ozan: That’s how we see you, someone who enjoys nightlife…

Cem: Get outta here!!

Ozan: … who goes out. That’s how they probably see me as well.

Cem: That’s what I’m talking about, there is this image of someone who is out and about when one mentions night. However, the way I remember night time is; there is this thing for those who have relatives living in Germany: whether it was because the tickets were cheaper, our relatives would always arrive at 4 in the morning.

Ozan: Ahhh! Unpacking at 5 o’clock…

Cem: This is what I remember about night time until mid 70’s. They would let you stay up until 3 – 4 if your relatives were coming to town. Then there is Ramadan… You get up for sahur and stuff… However what I remember, maybe what, when I was 12 – 13… What time do you go to bed as a kid again? 9? 10?

Ozan: I have a kid, he sleeps at 10.

Cem: We would sleep at 10 the latest, however say there were guests at the house and my dad and mom would continue at the table they sit at 8 with them… On some of those nights you would be able to stay up until 1 or 2, that was really interesting for me.

Ozan: You would walk around the next day saying “I was up until 3…”

Cem: There is such as thing as life after 2. That block where you are not allowed to stay up, that you’re curious about. For example that is how my interest in night time began. Why am I not around at this hour?

Ozan: There used to movie events on Sunday. All the movies I’ve seen until I was 16 I watched halfway.

Cem: Until 16?

Ozan: Well I wasn’t allowed to stay all the way through I would always be at the corner of the room…

Cem: What are you talking about? I was working room service at Çınar Hotel when I was 15, by shift would begin at 12 anyway.

Ozan: Really! That’s why you’re the man for nightlife!

I think I prefer living at night.

Cem: Me too!

Ozan: Daytime is unnecessary.

Cem: I think day time is supererogatory as well.

Ozan: Let’s start work at 7 in the afternoon, then work until the morning, or let’s begin around 4…

Cem: Let me tell you about something, you know what I was talking about before… In 88, I was 15. I would leave the house at 11 to go to work. My shift would begin at 12, from 12 to 8…

Ozan: You were 15? Well when was your first squeeze?

Cem: What do you mean?

Ozan: When did you begin dating?

Cem: Since I was 3! Of course since the age of 3… What does that have to do with anything! Why do you think of dating when one mentions night life?

Ozan: That’s what people think of… That’s all they think what night life is about…

Cem: Night seemed to me like… You know how you can’t breathe under water unless you have a snorkel? It’s another world… And there is another world during night time; it’s more quiet, more mysterious things happen…

Ozan: A phone that rings in the night…

Cem: Yes, a phone that rings in the night! Looking out the window when you hear a voice coming from the street…

Ozan: There also used to be the coming home at night thing! For example, I had a cousin from my mom’s side of the family, Zafer! Let me mention him here… He used to come home around 3 /4 from a friend or someplace else… My grandma also liked to live at night.

Cem: There is such a thing as older people that sleep less! You would know…

Ozan: My grandma’s friend would arrive, and they would play a card game. I would go to sleep at 10, wake up at 6 in the morning to go to school, and they would still be playing. I would come back from school and tell them “I have to study,” my grandma would say “Forget about it, we’re playing cards.”

*We all have been sent to our rooms, cautioned to sleep while doing anything but…

Ozan: I was an only child, that’s why the only time I joked around in a room was when my cousins were sleeping over. All the whispering after being told to go to sleep…

Cem: Of course, you never went to sleep at 9 when your parents told you to do so around 9… I shared a room with my brother. We had a computer and stuff in our room, we would play games without making a noise.

Ozan: There is such a weird side to being an only child, you do everything on your own…

Cem: Though when you are an only child, you spend more time with adults.

Ozan: I only hung out with adults; I would get dressed up, and act all cute so that I could sleep a little later.

Cem: Dressing up in costumes and stuff…

Ozan: Yeah! Dressing up… As a woman, man, doorman… I was really stupid as a young boy, I would play the most difficult games; I pretend to be a cowboy and shoot at myself from one corner then die on the other end.

*There is also such a thing as shifts during night time. It wasn’t just about being naughty and playing games without your parents knowing. People actually work…

Ozan: You know as a child you think there is no life after 8.

Cem: You also think that night means going out, having fun! However, there are many routine jobs at night, hard ones… Jobs where you work for 24 hours even… I realized I was a man of night during my time working at that hotel. Magazines! People who work at magazines are also people of the night!

Ozan: I was about to say that; magazines are finalized at early hours of the day.

Cem: Maybe all employees of a magazines are biologically up during night time, who are more productive then. There is also the traditional part. It always used to be like this; you would go to the printing house, start work two days prior to press day; but you have a week! You could hand it in earlier… As tradition, putting all those people together for at least a night creates interesting things…

Ozan: I’ve been thinking of this since childhood; a movie that you see at night is priceless, music that you listen to is priceless, a conversation is priceless… Show me something during day time, meh…

Cem: A lot of people struggle to stay up at night, our tendency towards night time since childhood and the fact that we worked places where we had to stay up…

Ozan: Isn’t night time more adventurous? Whether you are a kid at home or an adult… Daytime is too bright.

Cem: I haven’t seen daytime from ‘95 until ’98, for sure… After the magazine, when I was on stage. I would sleep around 6, and wake up the following day close to sundown, around5, 6, 7…

Ozan: I had those periods when I was writing…

Cem: … I’m about to go on stage for 2 hours; if I were to work during the day, I wouldn’t have any energy left to be on stage at night… I’m not quite like that anymore, however I make sure to sleep as late as I can if I’m going on stage.

Ozan: I was really surprised by that, it was the first time I had seen it. You were about to go on stage and I was dropping by or was going to watch you form backstage or something. I asked “Where is Cem?” They said “Sleeping.” If you have an 8 o’clock show, do you get up at 5 to and come to your senses on stage?

Cem: There’s been many times when I came to my senses during the second act! I was never late to work though. Maybe my luck also helped but…

Ozan: Luck did help me a lot…

Cem: For someone who loves sleep this much, never…

Ozan: We do have a problem with being woken up…

Cem: If we are working with a completely different sector… The guy says we’ve set up a meeting for 9 o’clock. I shouldn’t sleep if I have a meeting at 9 at all! How would I be able to go to a meeting at 9? That’s why I don’t sleep…

*Staying up isn’t easy when you’re in these businesses. Are you as productive after sleeping for a couple of hours compared to 8?

Cem: Fine, another question for you. The longest time you were up without sleeping?

Ozan: Our record during work was when we were shooting G.O.R.A., 3 days as form y private life. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday… I went to sleep at 12 on Sunday.

Cem: It’s good that you went to sleep, otherwise you’re done; you start not sleeping.

Ozan: … then I slept for two days.

Cem: My longest was 19 hours of sleep.

Ozan: We were up for longer than 48 hours for G.O.R.A. That time when everyone had to get IVs. Everyone had one each. Remember?

Cem: There is a well-known scene, my longest, over 50 hours; where the Brits came to my store to buy a carpet.

Ozan: In Kaleiçi, Antalya.

Cem: We started shooting that after the 40th hour; we had been working from the day before, we had to shoot because there was an actor who came from England. We went and shot. I had begun seeing hallucinations during that scene.

The longest scene we shot was the soccer scene at A.R.O.G.!

Ozan: That was so long!

Cem: One week… It was a hard spot, we were crowded, and since it was summer, nights were shorter, the sun would go down around 9 so you don’t have much time to shoot.

Ozan: We also spend a lot of time when Cem writes these long monologues for himself.

Cem: I have never heard of such a thing!

Ozan: What? Of course it happened! You had such a long line during Yahşi Batı…

Cem: You know what my ill luck is? If someone were to say turn right, turn left, say this, look there from behind the camera, that’s fine… For me, when I’m starring in a movie I’m directing together with you, and I’m dressed as the character of a movie, and I’m telling people do this do that. Well no one takes me seriously when I’m in costume! For example we’re shooting A.R.O.G., I am wearing this fur, I’m Arif at that point saying “Oh, is that what’s happening” (in Arif’s tone) and then I have to say “Alright guys we’re doing another take.” Who would listen to this guy?

Ozan: For me, Cem Yılmaz is one of the directors I take seriously the most…

*The audience likes hearing about what happens backstage. It makes them feel closer to the actors…

Ozan: One time, Zafer Abi (Zafer Alagöz), Özkan Abi (Özkan Uğur), Cem and I were in a a scene. And Cem had actually written a really long thing for his own character and regretted it because 1, 2, 3 takes and he would hit one spot and…

Cem: But you’re all like my children, I had forgotten about myself to make you all look better…

Ozan: What? To save your own ass you mean…

Cem: No man, I realized that you were all good, and that I was the one who wasn’t ready. What do you want me to do?

Ozan: The line was really long, we were praying for him to succeed…

Cem: I had a paragraph, they were all staring into my eyes and since I failed each time, they began trying to make me laugh. Because they knew I would get stuck every time… I finally did it, and Ozan had found a way to make fun of me in the scene, he said “You are such a wise man Arif,” and kissed my forehead, wheat he means there is: “Finally Cem, you finally succeeded.”

Ozan: If I were to say “Cem,” we would have to do it again…

Cem: Someone once called me that. We were shooting Doritos’ ad, there was a flashback scene in an ambulance, “You can’t die, you can’t!” kind of thing. The fellow actor in the role of the doctor said to me “Don’t panic Mr. Cem, don’t do it Mr. Cem! Mr. Cem! Mr. Cem!” I said “I’m not Mr. Cem…?”

Ozan: “If I were, you couldn’t have gotten this close to me!”

[Bursts of laughter.]

Ozan: “Otherwise why would I be in an ambulance with you!”

Cem: What do you mean Mr. Cem! I’m not Mr. Cem right now!

*Why did these people become actors? What part of the job keeps them happy while leaving them sleepless, pausing their personal life, detracting them from their homes?

Ozan: They asked Bob Marley, “Do you have money? Are you rich?” and so on… In the end he said “Living my life is my richness.” What is money, you spend it and it’s finished.

Cem: When it comes to our jobs, they are economically so disconnected. Because you don’t earn it fast after a job is finished. You work, you succeed, then you start making money. It’s like, the answer to the question “Can you make money from acting” is no, there is no money in acting. There is money in some jobs.

Ozan: Also, what is the purpose of that person asking that question? Will you become an actor if there is money in it? What is this, the stock market?

Cem: Can you make money from acting is a wrong question anyway, it’s like would you make money off of movies? To a certain crowd, the answer is no; if you were in the 80’s the answer would be no, it depends on who you’re asking… It has nothing to do with the soul of the job. When we were kids with an interest in this profession, going back to what you were saying before; when you used to dress up for your parents’ friends, you weren’t thinking about payment, it’s the same thing now. I had accessories to reenact the movie Davaro at home; a walking stick, a salwar, a sash, a gun and so on… What was I getting paid for that?

Ozan: Did we start this job because we wanted to be liked? It sounds vulgar when I say it like that but…

Cem: No man, it’s about liking the job. I had a joke about this. “If I could perform for free, I would, however the sector doesn’t allow me to!” We have to change the whole system. If we were to go back to primitive clans, I would do it for free as well. If there was no tax payment on the 25th of the month, no rent, and, I don’t know, if sweet-talking could get you some bread from the store… I would love to do it for free.

*When a gymnast and mythical hero get together…

Cem: We serve to an entirety. If the director hasn’t created that environment, if there aren’t any problems with all the scenes leading up to a particular one, if the imagery of that room, the gloom, and the background music isn’t transmitting the emotion, that scene will never be emotional even if I work until the morning…

Ozan: Some people who have dedicated themselves to this profession might think “I could be good in a bad movie and save my ass…”

Cem: Hmm, true.

Ozan: … however for someone who looks at this profession as a whole; I don’t want to be a good actor in a bad movie, I’d rather be an average actor in a good movie. If there is something to choose, I’d rather choose that one.

Cem: Isn’t the starting point “being the right cast” for that part? Isn’t being skillful cause the question “at what?” Imagine me acting in a movie that is about a gymnast… Why would I be playing that guy, man?

Ozan: You know “the right cast” is portrayed as a bad thing, as if they are saying “You are unable to act like that which is why we are not casting you.”

Cem: The same goes for auditions… “I am such a talented person, why would you call me in for an audition?”

Ozan: I was reading a script the other day. “The man pulls his hair back, he is naked in the bathroom with his wings out…” Well that’s not me!

Cem: Maybe they were going to create those wings for you on post?

Ozan: Well they could put wings on anyone in that case! Why are you putting them on me!?

Cem: Then I think you should reply to them. “Now I have my own wings…!”

Ozan: Then you’re portrayed as being cavalier… [While laughing]

Tell them you want to fly off with your own wings…

*A road that leads from a crowded dinner table to Robyn Hood…

Cem: We’re happier with people who have no expectations, of course. When I meet someone for the first time, saying that “They are not how I expected them to be” really saddens me to be honest, that’s my fault; clearly I am prejudiced. Same goes for us. A positive pre-judgement is also not good, it also causes an unnatural relationship.

Ozan: You put a picture up on Instagram, for example, of a crowded table. Someone who says “Damn I would talk their ears off if I were at that table,” could be calling for a cab after 10 minutes he spends with us. However that has nothing to with us, that is about him. I mean I have no idea what he is thinking or wished we were like…

Cem: What I hate the most is someone who turns a normal conversation into an interview. Saying “Any movies planned for the future” as if they are asking “So, how are you doing?” What are you talking about, we’re just having tea, why would I be telling you about my upcoming projects?

Ozan: It’s like saying “What would you do if you weren’t making this magazine?” This is not sincere at all!

Cem: Exactly! We’re trying to live each moment, second, hour, while the man is asking me ‘Do you have an upcoming movie? How would I know? Why are you asking me this during a daily conversation anyway?

Ozan: Or if two professors came across one another, they don’t ask each other what number they base Pi off of!

Cem: People can’t help themselves of course… We have a lot of people around us that we’re huge fans of ourselves, and sometimes we can’t help ourselves either…

We have lot’s of common things to talk about with people who have seen our movies, and who share our emotions. Which is why it doesn’t bother us when people want to talk about our jobs, however it’s better to do it in a friendly tone… Also, you become passive in some conversations. As if you constantly have to explain yourself… You come to a point where you want to say “Talk a little bit about yourself!” “Dear Ozan, let’s get together one day and talk about you…”

Ozan: Zafer Abi has an anecdote like that: “Let’s get together tonight and praise each other.” That’s not how a relationship works… We’ve been friends for a long time however there are things more than just Cem’s name and last name to our friendship.

Cem: If you can’t get along with someone, what difference does it make even if it’s Justin Timberlake we’re talking about…

Ozan: One of my first reasons is that I have so much respect for someone who does their job well. You have to be honest, you have to be hard-working, and you have to be sincere. I’m a big fan of anyone who does that.

Cem: For example, there are people who work in professions other than acting who have these qualities, their lives and conversation topics are fun.

Ozan: For some people, it’s not your character that is your focal point, it’s your profession. Which is why he doesn’t have to feed off of anything but what he does as a job. That way he has conversations with his friends about topics that refer to his job. Like yeah, you can respect a thief who is good at his job, however that is Robyn Hood, that is a fictional character.

Cem: I though Robyn Hood was a porn star you know? Because he took from the rich and gave to the poor.