Interview: ‘Bitter Lands’ Actors Uğur Güneş, Hilal Altınbilek and Murat Ünalmış

 Interview: ‘Bitter Lands’ Actors Uğur Güneş, Hilal Altınbilek and Murat Ünalmış

Bitter Lands, a series by Tims&B Productions, tells the story of love, hope and reckoning from the 1970s to the present day. The lovers, who face great trials in the midst of passion and bullying in Çukurova, try to live their love despite everything. We present to our readers the interview we made with Uğur Güneş, Hilal Altınbilek and Murat Ünalmış from the series Bitter Lands, which has kept the viewers locked on the screen for 4 seasons.

Uğur Güneş, Hilal Altınbilek and Murat Ünalmış from the series Bitter Lands

Demir, Züleyha and Yılmaz… How did your characters start out? What changes did they go through in two seasons?

Hilal Atınbilek: Züleyha is a special and model character who is trapped between her logic and her emotions, who is helpless but learns to use her power as she gets stronger with the fierceness of this helplessness, who shows that no one will do things that will harm people for no reason, who protects her kindness and compassion but also knows how to take revenge.

Murat Ünalmış: Demir is the child of a wealthy family, so he is a bit spoiled. He has selfish sides that we can see in children without siblings. He has been loved by his mother and father, is loyal to his tradition, knowledgeable and well-mannered. He devotes himself to the industrialisation of Çukurova. At a time when the feudal and capitalist systems are in conflict, he is an extremely ambitious person who has set his mind on doing innovative things. He has done everything he has set his mind to throughout his life, a person with high self-confidence. And Züleyha appears before him without even thinking about it. He is struck as soon as he sees her on the train, and when he sees that woman, whom he cannot see again, in his own farm, he thinks that this is not a coincidence, but fate.

Sometimes we experience such moments in life and we think that it is not a coincidence but something more. Sometimes we even find exaggerated meanings in a great delusion. And we start to weave what we call fate with our own hands.

Demir is also drawn to Züleyha by this development that he sees beyond coincidence. When he learns that Yılmaz and Züleyha are siblings, he starts to approach Züleyha more confidently.

Of course, the breaking point is when he learns that Züleyha and Yılmaz are not siblings. At that point, he has to make a choice, it’s a difficult test. This is a situation that isn’t often encountered in life. Black or white, there is no middle… He has to make his choice somehow…

In matters like this or in other matters in life where we have to make a choice, some of us bury the blackness in our hearts in order not to stain that white part. We do not prefer the wrong, we behave honourably. But some of us prefer black rather than white. And that preference becomes their darkness, blindness and never-ending trouble. These experiences wear a person out, press his feet to the ground and teach lessons. If he is lucky and if he is wise, it tames him. Demir also changes as a result of his own choices and in the face of the consequences he encounters. Let’s see how this change will continue!

bitter lands

Uğur Güneş: Yilmaz is a man who has unfortunately suffered the blow of fate and has already accepted it. His naivety at the beginning has diminished a little, his experiences have changed him. He is not the Yılmaz of the first day, a lot has changed from the first day to today. Therefore, he accepted his fate. He is married and has a child. As Yılmaz said, fate played a great trick on him. He is no longer fighting his fate, he is looking for ways to live with it and this is quite difficult for him, he is trying to achieve this difficult task. Yılmaz’s breaking moment is when he learns that he has a child. He realised that he could no longer bring anything back and made a decision. Even though it is difficult, he tries to live by the decision he made.

If we ask you to summarise the values represented by the characters you portray in Bitter Lands with a few words…

M.Ü.: Demir, of course, represents certain values. Like power, glamour, family, tradition. But every human being has good and bad sides. I think in this story he is a character who represents how power, splendour and love can be cruel and humiliating when they are devoid of justice and honour. He is an example of the divine manifestations and consequences of ambitions and exaggerations. Therefore, I think the character of Demir in Bitter Lands represents ambition, power and exaggerated love.

H.A.: Züleyha is the greatest example of love and its holiness, and that every sacrifice can be made for love. She is self-sacrificing, in love, full of ambition and revenge, and compassionate. For example, what she feels for the man who captors her is just compassion.

U.G.: The first is justice because Yılmaz has suffered a great injustice and he is still looking for justice. The second is conscience because there is still a man inside Yılmaz who is hungry for happiness. There is still that naive, well-intentioned Yılmaz. He has never lost that.


What do you think about what happened between Demir, Züleyha and Yılmaz?

M.Ü.: I can see that it’s a morbid situation. Yes, unfortunately, there are inextricable situations like this in life. I am in favor of living with justice, of knowing what is right. But sometimes that is not the case.

Can you both love and torture the person you love? Yes, there are people who do that. But this is not called love, it is selfish. This is not possible when you value and respect the other person’s personality.

This is actually a lack of empathy, a sociopathic situation. Obviously, a person who loves honestly aims to live this love with mutual beauty. If this is not possible, he prefers not to insist on it and to leave everything with beauty.

The situation in the series is a little different. Honestly, the more I think about Demir, Züleyha and Yılmaz, the more I take a lesson from it, because actually Züleyha’s one little lie turns everyone’s life upside down. That little spark, that innocent lie that maybe she said we are siblings, causes the whole forest to burn. Therefore, I think it is an exemplary series.

What was the scene that deeply affected you while playing in Bitter Lands?

H.A.: The birth scene of baby Adnan is one of the scenes that affected me the most. Since I have never given birth before, I was very impressed and excited to portray this scene.

U.G.: The prison scenes were very impressive. I realized how difficult Yılmaz was in that place, and the role became more internalized. For me, there was a sense of loneliness and helplessness. When I think back to those scenes now, after all you have been through, it is really hard to just wait in a place where you have no contact with the outside world, in despair, unable to do anything.

M.Ü.: We played a scene with Vahide sis for 15 pages without interruption. Demir confesses to her that he knows everything his mother has done. And Hünkar still continues to lie as if Demir doesn’t know. This was an intensely emotional scene in the barn, where we played mother and son, and where very difficult, complex, painful emotions were together. We played this scene many times without interruption. It was one of the scenes that affected me the most because of its content, emotions and performance.

We had another scene where we played the duo Züleyha and Demir, which lasted quite a long time and I thought Züleyha was pregnant from Yılmaz. That was one of the scenes that affected me a lot emotionally.

We had a scene with Bülent Polat where I drowned Gaffur in water. That was one of the scenes that excited me a lot.


Which character do you think is the most interesting and variable one other than the character you portrayed in the series Bitter Lands?

H.A.: Definitely Hünkar Yaman. In fact, it is very important to do evil and be justified and make people ask the question “would I do the same?”.

U.G.: I think the character of Züleyha.

M.Ü.: In fact, all the characters are very striking and very watchable. Hünkar’s character’s variability, her motherly feelings on the one hand and her secretive side on the other hand obviously make her very watchable. In general, all the characters in the series are interesting, beautiful and deep. They are characters that never conform to pure concepts, where everyone can be involved in good or evil. Actually, like in life…


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