Barkhad Abdi receives a SAG Awards nomination for ‘Captain Phillips’

The Somalian actor who starred alongside Tom Hanks in the pirate heist flick has received his first ever Screen Actors Guild awards nomination. Abdi, who lives in Minneapolis, was plucked from oblivion to play the role of Muse, a Somalian pirate who hijacked a U.S. ship in 2009. The movie is based on a true story. For his solid performance as a pirate leader who refuses to give up even as the heist situation spiraled out of control, he earned a nomination for best male actor in a supporting role.

Barkhad Abdi at the red carpet screening of Captain Phillips - Copy

Barkhad Abdi at the red carpet screening of Captain Phillips

“We had weeks of intense practice and rigorous training to become pirates,” says Abdi. “I didn’t know how to swim. I had to learn how to climb. Being scared wasn’t an option.”

Born in Mogadishu and raised in Yemen, Abdi moved with his family to Minneapolis in 1999, when he was 14 years old. The personal understanding of the pressures that many Somalis have faced as economic conditions deteriorated in the war-torn country is what he says drew him to the role.

“I think if things had been different, Muse could have been happy as a fisherman. But when he’s unable to make a living that way, and when he sees men from his village become pirates, he wants his share of the money that comes to them,”  he explains. “I still have family in Somalia, so I know what’s going on there,” adds the actor who was elated with his first nomination.

An annual event in which actors award the peers they feel are worthy of accolades, the Screen Actors Guild nominations offered little surprises this year. “12 Years a Slave,” “The Butler” the Meryl Streep drama “August: Osage County” and “Dallas Buyers Club were all nominated for best picture.

Barkhad Adbi  as Muse in Columbia Pictures Captain Phillips

Barkhad Adbi  as Muse in Columbia Pictures Captain Phillips

Also receiving nominations were Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor for their roles in the Steve McQueen’s film “12 Years a Slave,” and Oprah Winfrey, who plays Forest Whitaker’s wife in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Nominees for the annual SAG Awards were announced this morning in Los Angeles at the Pacific Design Center’s Silver Screen Theater in West Hollywood.

The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast live nationally on TNT and TBS on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at 8 p.m. (ET) from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa. Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures

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