Fox brings Turkish remake of This Is Us
BY Stanislav Kimchev
This spring season, Fox will launch the first adaptation of hit US drama This Is Us in Turkey. Set to become one of the biggest premieres of the year, Better Together (Hayat Gibi) stars popular actors Songül Öden and Birkan Sokullu. The two stars gave an exclusive interview to TVBIZZ Magazine in which they talked about their roles on the show and what viewers can expect from the highly anticipated new drama.
Copyrights: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Songül, how excited are you to be doing a remake of such a famous US series now?
We are really excited and believe in this project very much. We finished filming the first episode, and we are very happy to be working together.

How would you compare it to your previous projects? Of course, one of them was also a big adaptation of Desperate Housewives but what would you say is the challenge now in this role?
They are really different. In Desperate Housewives, my character was much milder. I was very much in love with this character and I cried when the series ended. That character was a bit childish and I was always overreacting to situations. In the Turkish version of This Is Us, the character of Reyhan (Rebecca) is more mature and more relaxed, so they are really different.

What should the viewers expect from Songül’s new face this time? How will you surprise them?
I play a mother with a lot of responsibilities who is very much in love with her husband. She is a woman, who can keep secrets very well. My character and her husband adopt a child, and she visits the father of that child, but she doesn’t reveal the secret. The most difficult part about this role is that I am playing a character in three different time periods. The first one is a young version of the same character, then the actual age, and then 65 and older. So, this is a totally new experience for me and that’s the most challenging part.

Birkan, could tell more about your role and maybe how you are related to Songül in the series?
My character is Berk (Kevin). He is an actor who works on commercials, but wants to be in the theater, but they won’t give him this chance. He works hard at it, because that’s what he wants, to be acting, and to do something on stage.

Copyrights: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Songül’s character is my character’s mother. Their family is very similar to the family in the original series. He has a lovely family, lovely sister and brother, but he is the biological son and his brother is adopted. His sister struggles with being overweight, and for different reasons he feels they get more attention. He is jealous and he feels like nobody gives him much love—his mother, father, sister, and brother - they do love him, but he wants to be more visible. I think he feels so lonely. He wants to be visible and he wants to be a star.

How similar are the two versions - the US version and the Turkish version in your opinion?
Birkan: Of course, it’s different but not by much. It’s a very psychological, very international and human story. There are some changes in the characters but the main theme, the main story is the same. This Is Us touched a lot of people around the world.

Songül, you are working again with the same company that also made Desperate Housewives. What is the atmosphere during the shooting process?
Yes, I also worked with MEDYAPIM on Desperate Housewives and I think that this is the best production company in Turkey making adaptations of foreign series. I am again working with the same director. The ageing makeup process is very difficult; we work for 3-4 hours to do the make-up because I have sensitive skin and have allergies to certain makeup.

How long does it take you to shoot one episode?
In total, I think it is about 17 days. It’s very long in Turkey, the time it takes to shoot one episode. While in the US, This Is Us is about 40-something minutes, in Turkey, each episode is around 2 hours. We believe the audience will love the series, because we believe in the story which is known worldwide and has many fans, so we hope they will like it.
Birkan Sokullu. Born in 1985 in Istanbul, Turkey, Sokullu graduated from Maltepe University with a degree in Radio and TV Programming and has played basketball professionally for 12 years. Beginning his professional acting career in Elif, Sokullu became one of the main stars of Turkish drama with his role in Little Women. Since then, he has starred in a number of TV series and feature films In Better Together, he plays the role of Berk.
Songül Öden made her cinema debut in director Onur Ünlü’s 2009 film Acı Aşk. Öden rose to international fame with her titular role in the series Gümüş and later starred in the Turkish adaptation of Desperate Housewives as Yasemin. She has been awarded multiple best actress awards in Turkey and other territories, including a Murex d’Or for popularizing Turkish dramas. Öden is widely known as the “Rose of Turkey” in the Middle East. She is also the United Nations Population Fund Humanitarian Program Spokesperson for Turkey. In Better Together, she plays the role of Reyhan.

Better Together (Hayat Gibi) is the Turkish adaptation of popular US drama This Is Us. Produced by Medyapim for Fox, the series stars Songül Öden, Birkan Sokullu, Celil Nalcakan, Olgun Toker and Elcin Afacan. This is the story of the 5-member Güneş family. Cem and Reyhan are expecting triplets but one of their babies dies and they decide to adopt a baby left at the hospital. Swapping between the children’s childhood and their adult lives, viewers will follow all the key moments of this normal, yet special family.
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