Ennis Esmer: I would like to play a foreigner Turk

Ennis Esmer: I would like to play a foreigner Turk
Photo by Shaun Benson
After he told the sentence above he adds: “Should such a role exist…” Actually before I made this interview I haven’t heard the name of Ennis Esmer. I heard of him from founder of RaniniTV. While I do research about him I’ve learnt that he’s born in Ankara and lives in Canada since age 3. And then I met with Mr. Esmer who starring in American TV series.

Now he’s shooting the series which Jason Priestley directs and plays called ‘Untitled Jason Priestley Project’. He plays a detective. If you curious about his acting (which you definitely should) you could start with watching ‘Red Oaks’. Series set in 1980’s and Esmer plays Nash. We could describe him as wealthy, rake, womanizer and kindly but firmly which leads us to typical OC guy. When you watch him on ‘Red Oaks’, you could define his acting style as a little bit mixture of Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg, Jason Schwartzman and James Belushi. Well, ladies and gentlemen… RaniniTV proudly presents one and only Ennis Esmer!

First leading role of Ennis Esmer as Osman on 'The Listener'

● Most of people in Turkey knows you as “First Turkish actor starring in an international TV series.” So, who is Ennis Esmer? Could you tell us about yourself?
I started acting in junior high school, doing school plays and taking a drama class, and then was accepted into a fine arts high school where I studied theatre, started working on sketch comedy in school assemblies, and studied improv on the weekends with the classes offered at Second City.
● One of your interviews you’ve mentioned that acting in Canada is tough. What kind of difficulties you’ve faced off?
I think getting to the point where you can make a living and build a career in acting is tough no matter where you are. It takes a lot of time, and building relationships with people who take chances on your talent or see you do well in a good audition, such as casting directors, agents, producers, etc. Being able to meet industry people while doing live comedy, theatre, etc, is all part of the process.
● Most of actors in Turkey are dreaming USA. Have you ever think of working in Turkey?
I would love to work in Turkey if given the opportunity. Any excuse to come home would be welcomed. Granted, my Turkish isn’t as good or spoken as well as the natives, or even my family, but I could play a foreigner Turk, should such a role exist. I am actually going to see the Turkish film ‘Mustang’ tonight. I’ll get back to you with my review.
● After ‘Toronto Show’ which has Saturday Night Live taste, you’ve played in ‘The Listener’. I think you have a style which I think a little bit mixture James Belushi, Jason Schwartzman and Jason Sudeikis. After this kind of comedy effect, when you starring in a drama what do you feel? What kind of difficulties you’ve faced off?
That’s a pretty wide ranging mixture of people, and thank you for the flattering comparisons. I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to dramatic elements in my comedic work, so mostly I’m just looking for new experiences, things I’ve never gotten to do before. In the last year on camera, I held my first baby (in the upcoming DirecTV series You Me Her), shot and killed some of my bodyguards while playing a billionaire hacker (on episode 9 of NBC’s Blindspot), and got to handcuff and interrogate a bad guy in my first role as a detective (in an upcoming Global TV mystery comedy starring Jason Priestley). So whether it’s comedy or drama, I’m happy to both, and I’m happiest when one job can encompass both.
● In Turkey all of the comedy TV series is 100-110 minutes length and every season is planning with 39 or 52 episodes. What do you think of? What can you say about this?
That sounds like there should be plenty of chances for someone to cast a character of a Turkish born Canadian who speaks Turkish with a foreign accent. Just saying.
● In your first TV series ‘Veritas: The Quest’ you’ve played Egyptian guard. Because of Muslim stereotypes all around the world Turkey has been identical to Saudi Arabia and Arabic people. Do you think that people whom they chose you for this role has a point of view like this?
Well it’s funny you should reference that role because I actually got cut out of the script between the audition and the shoot day, so I didn’t even get to play that Egyptian guard. I definitely think that my ethnicity has factored into my work. Sometimes I don’t even get to audition for roles unless “all ethnicities welcome” is specified. But it doesn’t always work out, even in those cases. One time I auditioned to play “Turkish waiter” and I didn’t even get that part. I was actually working as a waiter in a restaurant at the time, so technically I was perfect for the role. Didn’t get it though.

But I was lucky with ‘The Listener’. The part was not written to be Turkish or even named Osman. Once I booked the role they started incorporating certain changes, but none that defined the character by his ethnicity. He just happened to be a Turkish Canadian man named Osman. Just like I happen to be a Turkish Canadian Man named Ennis.
● ‘The Listener’ is I think your first leading role. And you’ve played Turkish man name Osman Bey. When you build and develop your character do you share your opinions with director and screenwriter? How do you prepare for this role?
That role was more about figuring out how to be friends with a superhero, basically. Or having a friend who can read minds, and while I don’t have a friend like that, everybody has had a friend with some stress or trauma or a unique situation in their lives, and to be able to relate and empathize with what they’re going through, even though you can’t understand it fully, that was the crux of the friendship between Toby and Oz. Osman was there for Toby no matter what.
● You’ve played typical character of 80’s which is wealthy and quirky on ‘Red Oaks’. Can you say ‘’I’ve found myself with this show’’ for ‘Red Oaks’? Because I think your performance is truly awesome.
I mean it’s the most fun I’ve had on set and on camera, that’s for sure. i can’t say enough about that opportunity. Without that show I wouldn’t have gotten ‘Blindspot’ or ‘You Me Her’ or the new Jason Priestley show. So the fact they took a chance on a Canadian actor with a mostly Canadian resume says a lot about the vision of the casting director Carmen Cuba, the director David Gordon Green, and the show creatores Joe Gangemi and Greg Jacobs. I’ll forever be grateful to them.

● Could we watch second season of ‘Red Oaks’. As I know you’re shooting ‘You Me Her’. Could you tell us about this show and your role?
Red Oaks season 2 will start shooting this summer in New York again, so hopefully you’ll be able to see it later in the year. As for ‘You Me Her’, well, it’s about a couple in a small, upper class Portland neighbourhood wherein the lead couple decides to experiment with an open marriage, meaning, a marriage where they can both sleep with other people. Unfortunately they both start seeing the same woman, and things get pretty complicated, as you might imagine. It’s directed in full by Nisha Ganatra, who I met when she directed two episodes of ‘Red Oaks’. She’s amazing. I’ll work with her whenever she wants me.
● How do you develop yourself as an actor? With your observations or branches of art like cinema, literature or theatre?
I think any actor has to keep taking classes to stay sharp. I have worked with a teacher named David Rotenberg for on-camera scene study and script preparation, both for auditions and roles I’ve been cast in. He’s had the most, best impact on my career by a mile. I also studied Meisner technique with John Riven in Toronto. That class is all about having an opinion, taking things around you personally, and being your true self in surreal circumstances. A lot of yelling and crying and confusion in that class. But it’s all worth it. The classes compliment each other nicely.
That and I never understood how some actors say they can never watch themselves on screen. I don’t see how you improve if you don’t watch your own footage and figure out what you think about your own performances. I watch myself like an athlete would watch game footage to learn what they’re doing right or wrong. And watch the other actors you’re working with. A lot of times they can teach you something from set to screen.
● What is your upcoming projects? Could you tell us about this?
Well I’m going back to New York in February to reprise my role as Rich DotCom on ‘Blindspot’. I can’t wait to get back into that character. He’s such a seedy enthusiastic dangerous creep. Like a little boy with money and guns, who thinks life is a big joke and he’s the only one who knows the punchline.
● What is your biggest wish or dream in acting?  
I would like to play a baseball player in a movie. He doesn't even have to be good. Just troubled in someway. Then I could retire.