[Update: July 6, 2020 — According to Turkish entertainment reporter Birsen Altuntas, Cagatay and the Taylan Brothers have parted ways with the Barbaros project, even though the project is still being planned by TRT/ ES Film. Unconfirmed reports suggest a scheduling conflict]

This week’s biggest news for the Cagatay fandom is that he is about to star in a period piece titled Barbaros, which will showcase the life of Hayreddin Barbarossa, a life-long seaman who went from being a pirate to a highly respected Grand Admiral in the formidable Ottoman Navy. You can read an interesting article on Ottaman naval power and Barbaros here. Cagatay will play the role of his elder brother Oruc Reis, also known as the original Barbarossa.

What do we know so far about this ambitious project?

The Project
The concept for the series started its development in 2017, by the state-owned channel TRT1. On November 5, 2017, Mehmet Bozdag, who is a specialist in historical shows (Dirilis: Ertugrul, Kurulus: Osman, Turkler Geliyor), announced preparations for the project by the channel. Even though he has since left TRT1, the channel retained the rights to the show. Since then, they have been in search of a credible production team, and eventually settled on ES Film, which was already working with the channel for a series on the life of Yavuz Sultan Selim. The Yavuz series has now been postponed in favor of Barbaros, which plans to go into production this summer. The producer Yusuf Esenkal signed the agreement with TRT1, with access to a huge budget for the project.A quick side note: even though we are not given this history in depth in The Protector, but in the book Karakalem by N. Ipek Gokdel that inspired The Protector, Hakan was actually named Yavuz, after Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim, who had shared a connection to the talismanic shirt young Yavuz’s ancestor had made for the first male descendant in his family. In Karakalem, Yavuz (Hakan) is the first male descendant in his family and being a brilliant mind who understands his responsibility, he himself begins to figure out the power of the shirt.

Cagatay’s preparation
Fans are well-aware of Cagatay’s intense dedication to his roles and how he can physically transform for them. Starting with Baris Ayaz of Delibal, Cagatay has taken an immersive approach to preparing for his roles.


For the manic depressive musician architect Baris, he lost 15 kg, grew his hair to give an unkempt look, took drumming lessons for 6 months and also spent time with individuals who live with the bipolar disorder.

For Sarp Yilmaz, he went through intense physical and fight training, maintained a close shaved head and stayed in character of an unwavering policeman for the whole 9 months that the show was on air.


For Hakan, he went through another transformation to play a boy who seems significantly younger than Sarp, far less secure in himself but carries himself with the cockiness of someone who wants to fulfill his destiny of being The Protector of Istanbul. Within that role, he also portrayed the Ottoman warrior and Hakan’s ancestor Harun Muhafiz, which required a completely different look and posture than what we see in Hakan.

Even though we were unaware of his intentions, Cagatay has probably been in preparation for Barbaros for more than a year. His first sighting in what could be his potential look as Barbaros was in January 2019, where we see him have a heftier build, along with the full, reddish beard. Since then he trimmed down for his gala for Season 2 premiere of The Protector, go back to a heftier build during the summer, clean up again for his filming of Season 3 & 4 of The Protector, and once again go back to the heftier body structure.


Since March 11 of this year, when he appeared for the unveiling of his wax statue at Madame Tussaud’s in Istanbul, he has been off the radar again, presumably, back to preparing for his role in Barbaros.

We have also come to learn that Cagatay has been getting adept at being a horseman (he bought a horse), weaponry – we have seen past short video clips of him throw an axe and also trying his hand at archery. He already loves the water, with deep-sea fishing being one of his favorite hobbies.

We expect to be amazed by his performance, yet again, as he becomes one with an important historical figure in the Turkish Ottoman era, and I know fans cannot wait!

The Production Team
As mentioned earlier, the producer for the project will be Yusuf Esenkal of ES Films. He already has experience in working on historical series’ such as Filinta (available on Netflix) and Payitaht Abdulhamid (2017 – 2020). He brings prior work experience from the United States, which he may rely upon to help build the considerable amount of special effects required for the water and elaborate battle scenes. We already know that the team at The Protector worked with the local Balik Gozu Film for their underwater cinematography and production. Maybe there is a possibility for them to be involved with this production as well.

The series is to be directed by The Taylan Brothers, Yagmur Taylan and Durul Taylan, who have significant experience in working on local and international productions of series and films. They have worked on Muhtesem Yuzyil (The Magnificent Century) and also worked on the multiple award-winning film, Vavien (Two-way Switch).

The script is to be written by a team of renowned writers that include Cuneyt Aysan (Cesur Yurek,), Ozan Aksungur (most recently with Cukur) and Oguz Ayaz (who has been a director for Elif, among others). All three have worked together before on Kurtlar Vadisi: Pusu, which ran from 2007 – 2016.

It seems Barbaros is slated to become a massive production, sponsored by a state-channel, which is unlikely to run out of funding quickly. If closures due to the pandemic is slowly lifted, filming will start in mid-July and it will hit the screens in September 2020. Depending on ratings, it may have additional seasons. The show will probably provide a complete narrative of the historical importance and dominance of the Ottoman Naval Fleet, with Cagatay playing the elder brother of the titular Barbaros.


Oruc, known as Baba Oruc, was the Governor of Algiers, also an Admiral of the Ottoman Empire and eventually died in battle. It is his position and mission that Hayreddin Barbarossa inherited, and with his skill as a seaman, eventually established the Ottoman dominance in the Mediterranean. It is possible that Season 1 of the show focuses more on the story of Oruc Reis as it is his legacy that the better known Barbarossa lived and grew.

​Fans have gotten a taste of Cagatay playing a historical figure as Harun Muhafiz in The Protector, but we cannot wait to see him immerse himself into Barbaros, as a character who played an important part in Turkish history.
Article (c) CUNA and mh/ @entrespire, twitter
Sources: ranini.tv, teammy.com, Birsen Altuntas on Twitter; Daily Sabah, alchetron.com

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