The Gulf of Aden is one of the most dangerous areas of the high seas in the world. Off the coast of Somalia, which has no functioning government after years of famine and war, the Gulf is patrolled by pirates. The pirates have captured commercial and private vessels and held ships and crew for millions of dollars in ransom. One such vessel was the Maersk Alabama, captured in 2009.
The ship was captained by American Richard Phillips and his story is told in the movie Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks. Somalian-born actor Barkhad Abdi plays Muse, the leader of the pirate crew that captures the ship. He was living in Minnesota when he heard about auditions for the film on TV. Now he is an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a film nominated for Best Picture.
“There was an open casting call that came on TV for a Tom Hanks film casting Somalians,” Abdi explained to the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “He was a limo driver at the time. “When I saw the casting call, I went there and I happened to be lucky.”
Abdi says he worked on the film for about four months. He never met Hanks before his first scene with him, and he says that director Paul Greengrass was smart to introduce the two that way.