Birol Ünel, Turkish Star of ‘Head-On,’ Dies at 59

“Rest In Peace, dear friend. Your light was shining bright,” director Fatih Akin says

Birol Ünel, a Turkish and German actor best known for his role in Fatih Akin’s “Head-On” and who also appeared in the film “Enemy of the State,” has died after a battle with cancer. He was 59.

Turkish media reported his death on Friday, and the director Akin, with whom Ünel worked with on three of his films including “Head-On,” “In July” and “Soul Kitchen,” announced his passing.

“Rest In Peace, dear friend. Your light was shining bright,” Akin said on Instagram.

The Turkish publication Bianet reports that Ünel was hospitalized in Berlin on his birthday on August 18 and had suffered from cancer for some time.

Ünel was born in Turkey but moved to Germany at a young age and studied theater at Hanover Conservatory, landing his first part in 1985 on a TV movie and then his first film role in 1988’s “The Passenger.” His breakout role came as an alcoholic and addict named Cahit in Akin’s 2004 drama “Head-On,” which would go on to win the Golden Bear prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

His recent films included “Transylvania,” “Seven Heroes” and “Falling” (2016), and he also appeared in several Turkish and German theater productions later in his career, including a production of “Caligula” in 1992.