‘Captain Phillips’ Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Is Broke

'Captain Phillips' Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Is Broke

Abdi tells the New Yorker he earned $65,000 for $55 million film

Barkhad Abdi is in the running for Oscar gold Sunday, but actual wealth eludes him.

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 Miinneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.”

Also read: ‘Captain Phillips’ Review: Taut Suspense, Iffy Racial Politics, Unfussy Tom Hanks (Video)

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.

Also read: ‘Captain Phillips’ Director Paul Greengrass Explains Why the Closing Scene With Tom Hanks Was So Authentic

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.

Also read: Jonah Hill Took $60,000 ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Payday Just to Work With Martin Scorsese

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.”

  • Will

    This is a terribly written article.

  • DUbangee Urmomma


    • Jana Lebowitz

      No, it's your real dad.

    • Lamin Sawaneh

      This is why no one likes your filthy kind. Neanderthals will perish.

  • LuKas Kasdan

    Wow, Joseph, why humiliate Abdi one night before the Oscars with this awful article? The Wrap sucks!

    • http://www.thewrap.com TheWrap

      Hey LuKas,
      No one is humiliating Barkhad. These are his direct quotes from interview with the New Yorker. If anything this is shining a light on his real life struggles that still exist despite an Oscar nomination.

      • Nice one!

        You are humiliating him. Yes, he may have given direct quotes to the New Yorker, but no one has picked up on them but The Wrap. YOU GUYS are the ones that have taken a few of his quotes he made in the context of a bigger story and made those specific quotes into an embarrassing headline for him. If you had to run this story, couldn't you have at least had the decency to run it after the Oscars, one of the biggest night's of Abdi's life? It's already being picked up by Gold Derby and they have a thread on it, discussing his personal financial situation – all because of The Wrap. Good one. All throughout this awards season he has come across as a decent, sweet guy – he didn't deserve your particular slant on things. Hopefully Sony can give him a nice bonus for all the great publicity he has been doing for Captain Phillips for the past months.

        • artrbndi

          you are pretty much asking for charity for the guy. it is pretty lame. that's why the guy quit his shitty job, he knew he had to be taken seriously to have any hope in the biz. you are not helping him

          • Nice one!

            Hi, don't quite know what you mean? What do you mean I'm asking for charity for the guy? How on earth am I “not helping him”? I'm just suggesting that Sony may consider a monetary bonus. Per diems and loaned clothes are par of the course for any film publicity interview/tour – that's what all actors get. I'm sure Sony have been helping him out in other ways too (looks like he has been getting a bit of initial dental work & teeth whitening – I'm sure Sony paid for this, as it would not have been cheap). But his award nominations have heightened the awareness of the film and no doubt the box office and DVD sales. No, they have no legal obligation to help him, but what is “lame” with me suggesting they give him some kind of ‘thank you” bonus? I do agree with you that it was Abdi's own decision to leave his job but that has nothing to do with this argument.
            By the way, The Wrap – this story has been picked up all over the place on the net. Well done. He'll now attend the Oscars, nervous enough, but now with everyone – fans, journalists, actors – knowing he is financially desperate. Way to go.

          • Veronica Aleman

            How is it charity? Its not charity, he worked on the film, and frankly, he deserves more than what he was paid for, for his performance. I honestly don't think he is embarrassed about being “broke” as I'm sure that is something he's delt with his entire life. This guy is not on the same wavelength as the money whores of Hollywood (not yet, and hopefully he never will be). Its not asking for charity though. He was just unskilled at dealing with the financial aspects and didn't know he was going to basically get screwed over. Which, when you think about it from a humble point of view, he didn't get screwed over, but when you think about it from the greedy jerks at the top of the chain who make probably more than 1000% than what he did off the movie…well he basically did get screwed over. Especially considering seats WERE filled BECAUSE of him. I know I went to see it because I was intrigued by his performance in the trailer I saw of the movie. I'm not really a Tom Hanks fan, so I probably wouldn't have seen it, had Barkhad not been in it,

    • DUbangee Urmomma


  • The Truth

    Good timing!!

  • Craig

    This is two times more than the $30K he tried to steal in the movie…

    • James_Burns

      More than twice as much as the writer said he could steal in the film's story. But in real life he'd probably do better as a chauffer driving people to the Oscars than acting. Someone responsible for the film should sign the guy to a contract and pay him decent money for 2 or 3 years. What a business.

    • Sol Saguaro

      Big money in Somalia is a pittance here.

    • Mahen

      @Craig I really laughed out loud! Good one!

  • TwiggyB

    They are not humiliating him as much as the company that has scored $65 million off the film. They could and should ante up some “real cash” and pay him some more money. They could do it and they should do it. That's what this is all about. Making the film company give him some much needed cash to help him right now.

    Lots of actors have been given money after their films came out because the company didn't have that money while making the film. Now that they have $65 million and counting, i.e. sales from the DVD, etc, they should ante up some real cash and give it to him.


    • Ken Barker

      Wrong. Shame on his agent, or lawyers for having him sign such a shitty contract.

      • AntoineD

        I don't understand what the problem is. Dude got paid the SAG minimum for his first professional acting job. There's nothing shitty about it — it's exactly what anyone in his position would have been paid. Why do the producers owe him any more money, aside from the contractual amount for doing publicity? They took all the risks – he would have made the same $65k if the film had never been released and they had lost their investment. And his name isn't the one putting bums in seats.

        • PTee

          1. Because he is a supporting role, even won a BAFTA for a “supporting” role, not some “extra”.
          2. The film ALREADY made $217,560,040 as of Jan, 2014, that's a huge profit for the producers. Most producers give the actors BONUSES post-production if the film has become a huge box office and at 217M, it is.

          • DoritoDorito

            Dear lord, all you arm chair experts – the studio owes him nothing if they did not sign a back end deal – you are twisted to think studios just dole out bonuses out of the kindness of their non existent hearts if a film makes money – your statement is laughable – you clearly do not work in this business. Just because you win accolades does not mean a greedy studio system all of a sudden decides to shell out money to you. It does not work that way. He was paid and that is that. They owe him nothing – PS – if you read the article, he is not even complaining about it – he is simply stating the facts (Hilary Swank was paid scale for Boys Don't Cry and never got a bonus after winning her Oscar – and that is an attractive woman we are talking about – not a Somali dude with dental issues).

          • Adele Dazeem

            DoritoDorito, I'm afraid some of us clearly do work or have worked in this business, including me. You are right – they don't owe him anything unless he had a back end deal. I don't think anyone is questioning that. What we are questioning is if Sony or the producers have given or would consider giving him a performance bump/good will bonus? It is rare, but it is NOT unheard of. It does happen. This guy added so much publicity to Captain Phillips, he won a BAFTA, he was nominated for every acting award under the Sun including an Oscar (which basically meant the industry thought he gave one of the five best supporting performances of the year out of all the movies and performances released in that time) and yes, he would have added to the box office and DVD sales. I, for one, went to see it for him as I'd heard so much about his performance. Surely I can't be the only one out there that did that. Sure, Tom Hanks and the true story were the selling point, but Barkhad kept up the awareness of it. I also read the original New Yorker story and yep, he wasn't complaining, just (probably naively) stating the facts, thinking it wouldn't be turned into a sensationalist headline by The Wrap and countless other gossip sites. I also think Sony have probably been generous to him in other ways during the awards season (besides per diems and clothing – that's a given on any publicity tour whether you are a newcomer or Tom Cruise). It just would be nice if they would consider that bonus, however unlikely it may be. He earned it. P.S. The Hillary Swank situation was different. Boys Don't Cry was moderately successful, but it wasn't the huge box office hit Captain Phillips was. No matter that she won the Oscar, it was still a small, independent film, from what I remember. I think people care more about the Abdi situation because he will be difficult to cast in the future and it would be nice if he was justly rewarded for what may turn out to be his biggest role.

          • ScubaSue

            Adele – thanks for clarifying as well

          • Ross

            F*ck that! If you own a business and have a leaky faucet, and you call and PAY a Plumber to fix it. Do you now owe the Plumber money from the profits of your business afterward!??? NO! >:I

          • Adele Dazeem

            Ross, well, that was a polite reply. Of course you don't owe the plumber for profits. I was simply stating that on the VERY odd occasion performers get good will bonuses. It would be deserved in this case, but highly unlikely to happen.

          • Ross

            It's NOT deserved because he hasn't proven his commercial viability for another project! Jennifer Lawrence PROVED her commercial viability. She got offered MORE money. James Cameron PROVED his commercial viability that's why he was paid EXTRA for “Titanic.” NEW actors don't get EXTRA money, 'cause they have yet to prove their commercial viability! This man has NOT done so. If he really wants a career in film he needs to study and SELL what this business wants. IDEAS that make money. Why you think Tyler Perry is where he is? James Cameron, Julia Roberts, I can name more. Point is, like any other business, if they want more money they need to prove they can make MORE money. Not just a one off thing, it has to be consistent!

          • Adele Dazeem

            Hey, I totally agree with you. He does have to prove his commercial viability. He does have to prove that he can actually perform well in another role. No arguments there. I still think a performance bonus on this occasion would have been appropriate. But, without any deals put in place and the fact bonuses like this VERY rarely happen, it is doubtful he would get one. He got the SAG going rate and that's that. He certainly wasn't complaining about it in the original New Yorker article. I, for one, hope he does prove himself in another role. He seems like an interesting guy.

          • ScubaSue

            Dorito-thanks for clarifying.

          • onlyone

            Hilary Swank did not have dental issues??

          • mwhahahaha27

            Where are you getting your info from? It was a standard business deal from day one. Any other actor on Earth would have gotten the exact same deal, and that would be the end of the story.

    • stopkidding

      He does not deserve any more money. He got much more than he is worth and much more than he deserved. He is not an actor, and he is actually an enemy of this country. He needs to go home and shut up.

      • Kariss

        You sound like a complete idiot. I bet you're FOX Network's dream. Gullible, due to a severe lack of intelligence. You should be ashamed to speak, being that you can't think for yourself and obviously can't read. Barkhad Abdi didn't make one comment or complaint about being “broke” or his situation in general. So saying he needs to “shut up” is probably due to you being a racist waste of space as opposed to reading anything to prompt that ill fitting statement. What an embarrassment. No one needs you to speak on behalf of this country. Frankly, you're just not smart enough.

      • Bev.

        How in the hell is he an enemy of this country?

      • Hi

        If you were broke and made a movie wouldn't you want more money? Just ask yourself that question. How come this has to do with how much he deserves or doesn't? He didn't just say one to two lines he was a major part of this movie! So if it was a big name actor do you think they would have made more money?

      • Louisa

        And you're a racist.

      • Veronica Aleman

        How do you know how much money he is worth? How do you even measure that? How the hell does one measure someone's “worth” in relation to money, please explain? That boy has seen more horrors in one lifetime than you ever will, and he's still hopeful about his life. THAT is worth much more to me in a person than any amount of paper (money) could ever suggest. You are probably just upset about your own personal situation and taking it out on this guy that you've never even met. I think you need to shut up and look inside yourself before you start judging other people.

      • cgordon

        why the hell you don't STFU how much do you worth ?YOU SHIT bag Nazi , I am sure you came here from russia

      • TNM

        Clearly…based on your comment, lame rebutles to EVERY blog posted daily and your weak ass profile; you have no fucking life. It's people like you who live in a crappy apartment, surviving off your low paying minimum wage job & speaks negatively in reference to anything existant to man kind ALL because you're bitter about some old ass scenarios in your life, grew up as the “ugly kid” who can't shake the ackwardness, lonely and blatantly unhappy. I really wanted to comment on this aritcle but your negetivity caught me off gaurd. I love tagging idiots like you! Your comments are a direct reflection of how grotesque you are. Good thing you didn't post a pic!…have some sympathy and compassion for the guy & do us ALL a favor, continue hiding behind your computer and shut the fuck up.

    • Steven Elam


    • Joseph F. Alexandre

      He clearly got Taft-Hartley'd into SAG as it was a Studio pic, so he'll get healthy residuals… But, there's no doubt he could've gotten a good will performance bump as Producers and Dept heads get it all the time… Greengrass and Hanks easily could've nudged the Producers to do so. I know for a fact another name actor and Director did something similar.

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  • Burphelson AFB

    I'm sure the floodgates will open after tonight – with many more Somali pirate parts…

  • Stevempod

    Tom Hanks estimated net worth is $350 million. Maybe he should throw this guy a bone, or put him in his next film. After all, Barkhad has only aided in padding that net worth.

  • Salah

    So? that's the business. 65 grand is fine.

  • Calli Preston Johnson

    Hope he lives his American dream XOXO! God bless! He should have gotten much more after the success of the film :-( will no one help him now? For shame!

  • Alex Stimphil

    65,000 is not a lot of money. he should have found an accountant, probably one recommended by someone in the industry. Kept working at his friend's cellular store(which would have gotten him more exposure) and lived a humble life until he either struck another major role or hit it big from one of his investments…

    • Gary Clement

      He has done that. It's reported that he is currently a phone salesman. He's “broke” simply because it's hard to make a living, and his film success caused him to take a lot of time doing promotion. But, he only made about 30K pre-tax each year for the last two years from the movie. Now he has to get cast in another role or find a good job, but these comments that he's done something wrong are outrageous.

  • http://www.about.me/eskinaeksena Irene Suico Soriano

    What comes to mind? Exploitation, shenanigans and clearly someone not watching out for Abdi's best interest by not letting him in on the sought after “back end deal”. Yes, the movie business is cut throat and that's the way it should stay…sad.

    • achuzzlewit

      Let's be honest. He had zero negotiating leverage. I'm not saying they couldn't have paid him more, but he was cast with zero experience and the studio could have easily just moved on to the next person if he pushed.

  • tilly

    He could always sell the bafta?

  • stopkidding

    He's lucky he got what he got, considering that NO somalis should ever have been allowed in this country for any reason. They should all be sent back to that litter box of a country and we should blow it off the map. It is an embarrassment that the POS country was allowed to stay in existence after the Blackhawk Down incident, and now with all these pirate attacks on our ships. It is nobody's fault but his that he is broke. He got a money gift that he absolutely should not have gotten from a country that he absolutely should not be allowed in. He is a low-life nobody and needs to shut his mouth. Go back to your mother country and hang out in the trees and eat dirt.

    • Sol Saguaro

      If you read his life story, Abdi came to this country as a very young refugee when his family fled from the insanity in Somalia. He grew up in Minnesota. By your standards, everyone in America should be banned from traveling to the Middle East because of the atrocities committed there by a few — or maybe many, who knows? — rogue American soldiers during the Iraqi “liberation.” Or why not ban us from Canada, because of the massacres that took place during the War of 1812? Also: there's probably a “crime” somewhere in your family tree among those who left wherever they came from to settle here. Maybe they stole a leg of lamb. Or simply were destined for the poorhouse. Or murdered someone. Have you conveniently forgotten, just so you can flaunt your jingoism and racism?

    • Bev.

      You're blaming this one man for everything going on in Somalia?

    • Kariss

      You're seriously a waste of space.

    • Adele Dazeem

      And the award for Most Ignorant, Uneducated, Offensive and Racist Comment of the Year goes to….stopkidding!! Congratulations stopkidding. Which correctional facility should we be forwarding your award to?? We want to make sure it reaches you.

  • Scosha Moe

    Dude was given a fantastic opportunity to star in a major movie and he nailed it. I was shocked to learn he didn't have prior experience. Technically the studio doesn't owe him anything so his best thing to do is take advantage of his exposure. I'd start a charity that focuses on Somalian issues and use my Hollywood connections to jump it off. He'll also be the go to actor whenever any movies that have African themes are produced. I doubt he struggles for long.

  • patchmiel

    He got $ 65.000 AND Tom Hanks probably got about 10 million for the movie. Ok so he wasn't the big name but now is the time for a little bonus which would be nice. Just the decent thing to do.

  • apreachaskid

    Anyone who is up in arms over this isn't taking into account that prior to this film, he had no acting experience. He was literally picked off the streets for this role. Second, he was more than likely not represented in any contract negotiations by an agent who would have made a demand for a higher pay. Third, it even more likely that he had not be included in the Screen Actors Guild or any other union which would have also made a demand for a specified pay for him. Had the role been played by a major actor such as Denzel, you can bet that he would not have been paid $65000 for the role. Let's keep things in perspective.

    • ScubaSue

      Absolutely. the bottom line is whether or not you're a SAG member; makes all the difference.

  • wisdom mupudzi

    Whilst producers don't owe him anytgibg, outside his contract terms, its only noble to send him post production bonuses. If the movie was a flop he would hv got what was dye to him. He us obviously worth more now be coz of the accolade he has win already. To appear on a role now he can comfortably charge north of $1 M. So no need to feel pity for him. He shud also negotiate well. Tom Cruise gers a fraction of the Dvd sales, post movie sales etc. It is weaved in the contract, he shud be able to negotiate such terms too.

  • Sol Saguaro

    “Technically, technically, technically….!” Hell, if early Hollywood wasn't more giving to its actors, none of whom had prior screen experience, agents, or a union to protect them, there'd be no movie industry. The moral mantel has become too heavy for the industry to bear if a sincere young man who gave his all is paid less than the tips received in six months by those who park the celebrities’ cars at the Beverly Hilton. When Kate Blanchett won her Oscar, she made the point that she could only win playing off against the performances of the other actors. The same is true of any film: it's a team effort. The rewards should be equitably (not equally) distributed. $65,000 for a Supporting Actor-nomination performance in a multi-hundred million-dollar blockbuster film is not equitable.

  • Carlos T. Jackal

    $65K? You'd think he could afford some dental work. Them teefs is scary.

    • Bippo

      That's very unkind

  • Diggin76

    Jonah Hill only got $60K for WOW and he's grateful for the opportunity. This is like a really successful paid internship for this guy.

  • http://www.cynthiarous.webs.com/ phoenixliterary

    The industry is not immune from the economic changes that the rest of the world is going through. None of the talent is making what they made 10 or 15 years ago. Modeling gigs that paid very well 20 years ago now pay 1/10 what they used to; same with featured gigs in films. The stars are not making what they used to, many of them taking percentages or deferred compensation rather than straight pay.

    So this is why I say, if you are an actor or any type of artist who is actually employed or earning an income; you are lucky, because it was always difficult, now it is nearly impossible.

  • Joe Mahma

    Broke actors are everywhere.

  • Benjamin Roussey

    Outstanding movie.

  • Benjamin Roussey

    $5,000 goes a long way on Somali.

    • Benjamin Roussey

      He should learn how to handle his money.

  • Benjamin Roussey

    Romney was right on about Russia and the Ukraine. Again, the Obama machine was
    wrong and even mocked Romney about it. Hilarious. Liberals just do not
    understand foreign policy. Obama is a punk and a very slow learner. Obama, your
    weakness on Syria has just caused an international crisis in the Ukraine. Good
    job, another black mark on your record where there is very little bright spots.

  • Benjamin Roussey

    It is called “personal
    responsibility”. We know liberals hate those two words when they are together
    because they do not want to take responsibility for their actions. It is not
    rich people’s fault you or your kids dropped out of high school. It is not rich
    people’s fault that they decided to study in high school and had the guts to
    start their own business and work at it until they had a winning product and/or
    service. It is not rich people’s fault that you chose to have a child out of wedlock
    and not listen to good advice when it was being handed to you. Most rich people
    were not born rich, they worked hard and did not spend all their spare time
    watching MTV or waiting for something to happen. They made it happen and they
    employ millions of Americans in jobs that matter. Your government job does not
    matter, most likely. And union members kill jobs but that is another story. It
    is about personal responsibility which liberals do not want to acknowledge
    because then they would have to realize their failure and stagnant professional
    is their fault and on one else’s.

    • terry208

      Lighten up dude, it's a entertainment site.

  • BillyBoy80

    Abdi's percentage of the total 217 million dollar gross is 0.0299 percent. Just shows you how generous Hollywood is. I'm kind of glad I pirated this movie and didn't give these assholes one dime. I would however like to send Abdi my $10 admission fee. Where do I send it?

    • Jorn Tramolta

      I like your sentiment and agree Abdi deserved more money, but even though the movie grossed $217million, that isn't its profit. it cost $55 million to make, on top of that there would have been the marketing and distribution fees which are significant, as well as producer and back end deals that may have been in place. So, the film is a box office hit, for sure, but its probably going to make a bigger profit in DVD and pay TV sales. Either way, a bonus should come his way, as well as residuals.

  • yrabadi

    I can't speak to what is ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ in this situation. All I'll say is, I wish this guy the best of luck. I hope he nabs more roles and I hope he continues doing what he loves to do.

  • DoritoDorito

    Considering I have an oscar, I would know better than you. Speak not of what you do not know. There is not a single studio that gives bonuses out of the blue. Keep smoking your chronic and deluding yourself.

  • MaStEr_MoLd

    This is basically the pitfall of poor people “making it” in the business. If you have a day job, you basically need to keep it until you get established. If you have friends or family, you have to stay with them until you have a few more movies under your belt. I think this story is sad, more than anything else. Hopefully he can land a part in a Marvel movie, or the new Star Wars sequels.