Barkhad Abdi, who starred in the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Captain Phillip,’ came out of poverty to star in the film, and may be headed back there sooner than he thought he would. The Somali refugee was nominated for an Oscar for his first-ever movie. He played the lead hijacker in the film, and his role, and his performance grabbed everyone’s attention.
It’s now been revealed that Barkhad was only paid $65,000 for the movie, which went on to make $210 million in the box office.
Barkhad Abdi has been widely praised for his role in “Captain Phillips” as the desperate pirate Muse, and even ad-libbed the film’s signature line: “I’m the captain now.” But a New Yorker story reveals that he is now struggling to support himself.
“When Abdi is in Los Angeles to promote the film, he subsists on a per diem, good at the Beverly Hilton, where the studio likes to put him up. The town car is available only for official publicity events. His clothes are loaners,” reads the article. “Recently Abdi requested that he be allowed to stay at a commuter hotel near LAX to be closer to his friend, a Somali cabdriver from Minneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.”
Abdi earned $65,000 for his performance in the $55 million film, but that was more than two years ago. And even with an Oscar nomination, there’s no guarantee of his future earning potential as an actor. Abdi already won a BAFTA for best supporting actor, and is now reading scripts in search of his next role.
After the Oscars, Abdi plans to move to L.A. and live with fellow “Captain Phillips” actor Faysal Ahmed.
Still, his life is better than it might have been. The 28-year-old was six when war broke out in Somalia, and rape and killing suddenly became common. His mother evacuated the family, first to be with Abdi’s father in Yemen, where he was teaching math. Eventually they settled in Minneapolis in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, home to many Somalis.
He was working for the limo company when he saw an announcement that a film was looking for actors to play Somali pirates. After filming “Captain Phillips,” he went to work at his brother’s mobile phone store in Minneapolis. But he decided to quit when the film premiered.
“How I thought about it was, like, When the movie came out, reviews either gonna be good or bad,” he told the New Yorker’s Dana Goodyear. “Either way, I cannot be working here.”
‘Captain Phillips’ went on to make over $200 million. I think it’s pretty easy to understand why he was paid so little upfront (many actors are) I find it insane that they didn’t provide for any money to come to him on the back end. Say, if the movie does well….. he gets a percentage. That just doesn’t seem right to not give him money other than what he was paid upfront. $65,000 won’t get you very far these days, certainly not enough money to live on for a long time. Shame on them….