Chris Mulkey impressed the crew on the set of “Captain Phillips” with his command of the pirates.

A U grad with homes in the Twin Cities and Los Angeles, Mulkey plays third engineer John Cronan in the Tom Hanks movie opening Friday about the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.

“I flew to Malta for the filming,” Mulkey told me. “When I got down on the dock, it was all a British crew, and the very proper assistant director wished me good morning. I said, ‘Good morning, Nick. Where are the Somali pirates? I’d like to meet them.’ He said, You see those African-Americans down there? I said, ‘All right, cool.’ So I yelled … ‘What’s up, my SOMALI PIRATES?’ The brothers turned around, looked at me and went, Mulkey, what the hell!

Members of the movie crew were astonished. “Nick goes, How in God’s name do you know these guys? I said, ‘They are from the Twin Cities. I’m from Minnesota. We had met at the Mixed Blood Theater, directly in Somali Land.’

“It was really nice,” said Mulkey. “We would joke, talk about the Vikings and the Twins on the set. They are just terrific guys.

“I’m glad to hear you think it’s a great movie. I do too. I was just awe-struck by it. The performances from the Minnesota contingent, the Somali contingent, are FANtastic,” said Mulkey. “I’m OK, too. And their stamina as actors was amazing. It was a hard movie to shoot. They were going to shoot it in New Orleans and I went, ‘Cool. ’Cause I play music down in New Orleans. Then they called back and said, No, we’re going to shoot it in Malta. I went, ‘Well, that’s great.’ I hung up and grabbed a book to look up Malta.”

Mulkey, who loves St. Paul, fell so in love with the Mediterranean island nation that he called his wife, actor Karen Landry, and told her, “You have to come; it’s too fantastic.” Landry balked, because a ticket was $2,000. “She grudgingly bought the ticket and was going to stay for a week,” said Mulkey. “She stayed for a month.”

Thanks to the Rev. Guy Drake, a deacon in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, for this Mulkey tip!

Freeman’s easy on the eye

Wednesday, I went to Winter Park to eyeball the Vikings’ new QB boy toy Josh Freeman. He is as cute in person as on TV.

Even his modest mohawk haircut, which looks ridiculous on 99 percent of adult heads, could not diminish the eye appeal of Twitter’s @JF5x.

A sports buddy came over to tease me about showing up at the Vikings HQ now that a black quarterback has been acquired. That’s just wrong. July 2011, I first noted the hotness of Christian Ponder and wrote: If Ponder can play football … Lord Have Mercy!

Well, Ponder apparently can’t. That’s why the Vikings are going to spend a year looking at Freeman, recently cut by Tampa Bay. A couple of sports pals told me that Freeman, 6-6 with a strong arm, has many assets that Ponder apparently lacks, one of which is QB Conquer-the-World Confidence. Johnny Football has more swagger than Ponder. I also was told that the buzz outta Tampa is that Freeman might have missed some early morning team meetings in Florida because he enjoys being 20-something. The Vikings should have had a clause in Freeman’s contract that precludes nightclubbing after losses.

Ponder’s at ease on Easy Street

Christian Ponder is creating no tension in QB meetings, according to backup Matt Cassel, who has more wins than Ponder so far this season.

That must be because Ponder has money to burn. And some of it may be lost in his last real estate transaction if his days are as short as some speculate.

Ponder and his ESPN reporter wife, Sam Steele Ponder, gave Midwest Home’s interim editor Rachel Hutton a look at their five-bedroom home in Excelsior. I’m thinking this is the same 5,500-square-foot, five-bedroom, eight-bath, three-car garage residence on 0.82 acres of wooded property that records indicate Ponder bought for $880,000,’s Ed Stych wrote in August 2012.


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.