Captain Phillips: Barkhad Abdi Makes His Movie Debut - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Araksya Karapetyan

Captain Phillips: Barkhad Abdi Makes His Movie Debut

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I am a big fan of movies based on real life events. This weekend I went to see 'Captain Phillips' because we were having Barkhad Abdi come in for an interview on Good Day LA. I hadn't read much about the movie before I went to see it, all I knew was that Abdi had one of the leading roles in the film. He plays "Muse" a Somali pirate who hijacks an American cargo ship and takes its captain (Tom Hanks) hostage.

The movie was suspenseful and very well done. Kept me at the edge of my seat and wide awake!

Then once I came out of the theater, I started to do some research on Barkhad Abdi and to my complete surprise found out that this was his first movie ever!

Abdi's isn't just an extra by the way, he has a huge role. In fact the movie is pretty much focused on Abdi and Hanks. Abdi did a remarkable job, to say I was impressed is an understatement.

As I researched more about Abdi, the more fascinating his story became. Abdi is originally from Mogadishu, Somalia, but when he was about to start school in 1991 the Somali civil war broke out, so his family moved to Yemen. Then at 14 his family won a U.S. greencard lottery and moved to Minneapolis, where there is a huge, actually the largest Somali community in the United States.

So here's where the story gets even better...
Abdi was living a regular life, driving a limo in Minneapolis, when he saw on TV that a casting director was coming to his neighborhood to find Somali actors. He thought it was worth a shot, so he went to audition. He ended up running into a few guys he knew and they auditioned together. Abdi made it through a number of rounds and eventually came to Los Angeles to meet with director Paul Greengrass.

I asked Abdi if he realizes how much his life has changed. He basically came out of nowhere and got to act with Hollywood royalty in a blink of an eye. Aspiring actors only dream of such an opportunity...

Now Abdi's face is plastered all over billboards, commercials, and TV shows. He says all of this hasn't hit him yet. I think he himself is confused by it all, which makes his story even sweeter!

It was so interesting to learn about the intensive training Abdi went through to prepare for his role- from learning how to swim, to fight, to shoot a weapon, to balance on a skiff in rough waters and so on. He like many actors immersed himself into the role.

What I found most captivating is how Abdi balances his character- he convinces you he is a ruthless, menacing, scary pirate, but he squeezes in hints of vulnerability and humanity. He makes you feel sorry for him. He makes you understand Muse's position and why he was doing what he was doing. Abdi says he could relate to Muse's role in some ways... he says he has thought about how his life may have been different had he not come to America. His understanding of this no doubt helped him pull off this complex character.

In person Abdi is shy, polite, and extremely humble... as he embarks on this new adventure... his life will never be the same again.
I hope he doesn't change, and I really hope we see more of Abdi on the big screen. He certainly nailed his film debut!

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