British actor Aykut Hilmi has not only appeared in numerous hit TV shows including Zen and Spooks but more recently has joined BBC1’s EastEnders as Nico Papadopoulous. He’s starred in the West End in Saturday Night Fever, Macbeth and West Side Story and his big screen credits include Nine, Mamma Mia and Beyond the Sea. As Culture Compass’ TV editor, i was keen to find out what makes him tick.
What’s your favourite role to date?
Probably my first appearance on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre. I was playing a Kurdish poet who was seeking asylem.I had my eyes and mouth glued together for every performance as the real person had originally stitched them up in protest. It was very challenging part for me. A very powerful verse play while making history as the first Turkish Cypriot to perform on that stage.
Kindle or paperback?
Definitely paperback! Although these new ways of reading a good book have some advantages there is nothing better than turning those pages, a sense of its history and the actual feel and weight of a book to get your imagination rolling.
Pub or social media?
I like being around the excitement of bars during the week but absolutely love a cosy pub with a roast on a Sunday!
If I escaped London for a night I’d go to…
…New York. There is something about that place that gives me a buzz every time I go.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I never had someone to look out for me or to give me good advice when I was growing up and have always had to fight and learn for myself’ which makes me the man I am today. My middle name ‘Sonmez’ has always inspired me and is what drives me in times of need. In translation it means ‘the one who never gives up’!
Whats on the menu for a sofa/TV dinner?
A good curry with a glass of red wine normally does the trick for me
Herbal tea or a stiff drink?
‘Jack on the rocks’ always!
Fighting fit or a couch potato?
Live by the sword and die by the sword. I have always been into sport and always strive to be fit physically and mentally. I played basketball for London when I was 18, semi pro boxer by the time I was 21 and a professional dancer by 25. I did all this before I trained to become an actor. Now I just box and run the London marathon every year. Challenging my body and mental goals have always and will always be part of my life. I apply all these skills and discipline to my way of life and to acting.
What is your dream role?
To play the younger version of Robert De Niro in the movie about his life story. The man is a legend and has always been an inspiration to my work.
What’s on your culture compass right now?
My mum is from Rome but never taught me Italian so I am trying to brush up on the language as I’m going to Amalfi for a holiday.
Tell us a secret
I make sure that my notes face the same way in my wallet.
For news and updates check out Aykut’s twitter page: @Aykut_Hilmi