Honorable mention: Barkhad Abdi, actor in 'Captain Phillips'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2013 - 11:15 AM
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Barkhad Abdi in a scene from the film, "Captain Phillips

It’s not every day that a fledgling actor almost steals a movie from Tom Hanks, but that’s just what Barkhad Abdi accomplished in “Captain Phillips.” The Somali-born Minneapolis resident makes an indelible impression as Muse, the lead pirate whose crew seizes control of a container ship at sea.

He won the role at an open audition at a Cedar-Riverside community center, where he declared, “I was born in Mogadishu and I am this part.” (Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali, all Minneapolitans, play the other Somali raiders.)

Abdi viewed his character as a man from a background similar to his own, but with less luck. Muse is the story’s antagonist, but Abdi and writer/director Paul Greengrass, show that he’s trapped in his way of life. Abdi, 28, conveyed the character’s conflicted nature, alternately fierce and soothing, and ad-libbed the film’s chilling key lines: “Look at me. Look at me. I’m the captain now.”

The rookie performer won Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations this month and is widely predicted to be a supporting actor competitor when the Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 16.

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