What does Barkhad Abdi have that Tom Hanks doesn’t? A 2014 Academy Award nomination.
The first-time actor from Minneapolis was among the five nominees Wednesday for best supporting actor for his performance alongside two-time Oscar winner Hanks in the piracy drama “Captain Phillips.”
Two other nominees Wednesday have Minnesota connections:
• Wayzata native Melisa Wallack was nominated for best original screenplay as co-writer of “Dallas Buyers Club.” Wallack made her debut as a writer/director with the 2007 Aaron Eckhart film “Meet Bill.” But she started work on “Dallas” eight years before that, partnering with Craig Borten, who interviewed the movie’s real-life antihero, Ron Woodroof, before his death in 1992.
• The Palestinian thriller “Omar,” distributed by Minneapolis-based Adopt Films, will compete for best foreign film. Tim Grady, president of distribution, said, “It’s a wonderful film. We hope it resonates with audiences across America.”
Since Abdi was picked two years ago from an open casting call at the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis, the 28-year-old Somali-born actor has been riding a Hollywood whirlwind. He was nominated for a Golden Globe — and while he lost, he got red-carpet attention and a shout-out from co-host Tina Fey during Sunday’s telecast. He also will be a nominee at this weekend’s Screen Actors Guild Awards (7 p.m. Saturday, broadcast live on TBS and TNT).
“I am truly honored to have been nominated by the Academy this morning,” Abdi said in a statement Thursday. “This has been a life-changing experience for me. I would like to congratulate all of the nominees this morning, especially the team from ‘Captain Phillips’ who were recognized. My performance is a testament to the vision of our incredible director Paul Greengrass, and our other Captain — the generous, amazing, and inspiring Tom Hanks.”
“It’s a lot of stuff I can’t believe,” Abdi told the Star Tribune this month. “I’m walking red carpets. Big celebrities recognize me. I never thought it would happen. It is just really unbelievable.”