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Barkhad Abdi (Somali: Barkhad Cabdi) (born April 10, 1985) is a Somali-American actor and director. He made his debut in the film Captain Phillips (2013), for which he received a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi at LFCC Awards.jpg
Abdi at the 2014 New York Film Festival
Born (1985-04-10) April 10, 1985 (age 34)
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, director
Years active2012–present


Early lifeEdit

Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Banaadir to a Majeerteen family. Around the age of six or seven, when the Somali Civil War broke out, he and his family moved to Yemen to join his father, who had taken up teaching.[1][2] In 1999, Abdi and his family relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there is a large Somali community. He subsequently attended Minnesota State University Moorhead.[2] Before entering the film industry, Abdi sold mobile phones at his brother's shop at a mall in Minneapolis.[3] He also worked as a limousine driver at a relative's chauffeur company and as a DJ.[4][5]


Abdi made his debut in the 2013 film Captain Phillips. He played ship hijacker and pirate leader Abduwali Muse.[6][7] He was cast following a worldwide search for the lead roles. Abdi and three other actors were subsequently chosen from more than 700 participants at a 2011 casting call in Minneapolis. According to the casting director, the four were selected because they were "the chosen ones, that anointed group that stuck out".[8] He was paid only $65,000 for his appearance in the film and returned to working in his brother's shop afterwards.[9]

For his work, Abdi was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and a Golden Globe Award. He won a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.[10] Abdi's experience in Captain Phillips was his first in the film industry.[11]

In January 2014, Abdi read scripts for a television show until he was sacked.[12] He landed a role in an episode of the series Hawaii Five-0, playing former warlord Roko Makoni.[13] Later that year, he began work on the comedy film Trainwreck, though he did not appear in the finished film.[14] He also appeared in the 2015 thriller Eye in the Sky, playing Jama Farah; and appeared in The Brothers Grimsby.[15] In 2016, Abdi played the lead role in A Stray, an independent film directed by Musa Syeed that was set in the Minneapolis Somali community.[16]

Abdi reversed his Captain Phillips role in the 2017 film The Pirates of Somalia, playing the Somali government-sponsored local agent and translator for Canadian freelance journalist Jay Bahadur. Abdi coordinates interviews between local pirate leaders and Bahadur, who records the motivations of Somali piracy in the weeks leading up to the Maersk Alabama hijacking.[17]

In October 2017, Abdi featured in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049, in a minor role of a scientist. He shared one scene with Ryan Gosling, providing him information on where to go next.[18]

Abdi directed a film, Ciyaalka Xaafada, as well as several music videos.[2]


In 2013, Abdi began to serve as an Ambassador for Adeso, an NGO founded by the Somali environmentalist Fatima Jibrell.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Abdi resides in Los Angeles, California,[20] as well as Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis, Minnesota.[21] The notable lump on his forehead came from a car accident he was in prior to auditioning for Captain Phillips.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Captain Phillips Abduwali Muse
2015 Eye in the Sky Jama Farah
2016 Grimsby Tabansi Nyagura
A Stray Adan
2017 Extortion Miguel Kaba
Good Time Dash
Blade Runner 2049 Doc Badger
The Pirates of Somalia Abdi
2018 The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Wiraj
2019 A Girl from Mogadishu Hassan Post-production
Beneath a Sea of Light[23] Caweys Post-production
Tyson's Run[24] Aklilu Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Hawaii Five-0 Roko Makoni Episode: "E 'Imi pono"
2016 Family Guy Abduwali Muse Voice
Episode: "Road to India"
TBA Castle Rock Abdi Omar Main cast (Season 2)

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "Entertainment Pop". Jan 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Production Notes". The Walt Disney Company Nordic. Retrieved 19 October 2013.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Goodyear, Dana (3 March 2014). "The Pictures - Contender". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Oscar nod for Minneapolis' Barkhad Abdi in 'Captain Phillips'". KARE. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  5. ^ Bertram, Colin (12 January 2014). "2014 Golden Globes: Old Guard vs. New". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  6. ^ Ryan, Mike. "I Can't Believe I'm Doing A Scene With The Forrest Gump Guy!". Huffington Post.
  7. ^ "Somali-American Actor Stars in 'Captain Phillips' Movie". Voice of America. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  8. ^ Seavert, Lindsey (October 8, 2013). "4 Mpls. men co-star in Tom Hanks film 'Captain Phillips'". KARE. Gannett Company. Archived from the original on October 9, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Captain Philips actor Abdi 'struggles' despite Oscar nomination".
  10. ^ "Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03.
  11. ^ Rottenberg, Josh. "Oscars 2014: Barkhad Abdi reacts to his Best Supporting Actor nomination". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  12. ^ Heilbron, Alexandra (24 January 2014). "Captain Phillips Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi talks about sudden fame". Tribute. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  13. ^ "HAWAII FIVE-0 Recap "E 'Imi pono"". Seat42F. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Judd Apatow's 'Trainwreck' Casts Up: Tilda Swinton, Barkhad Abdi and John Cena Sign On". 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  15. ^ Reilly, Travis (October 28, 2014). "'Breaking Bad' Star Aaron Paul Is a Conflicted Drone Pilot in 'Eye in the Sky'". TheWrap. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  16. ^ Syeed, Musa (2016-03-14), A Stray, Barkhad Abdirahman, Fathia Absie, Faysal Ahmed, retrieved 2018-01-05
  17. ^ The Pirates of Somalia, 2017-04-27, retrieved 2018-05-05
  18. ^ "'Blade Runner 2049': Barkhad Abdi Shares New Character Details". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  19. ^ "Adeso Ambassador Barkhad Abdi appeals for Somali cyclone aid". Mareeg. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  20. ^ Lammers, Tim (5 March 2014). "Report: Fresh off Oscar nomination, Barkhad Abdi 'dead broke'". Bringmethenews. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  21. ^ Kerr, Euan (14 October 2016). "A boy-and-his-dog story, with a cultural twist". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  22. ^ Marsh, Steve (February 26, 2014). "Barkhad Abdi: A Pirate's Life". Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  23. ^ "Oscar-nominee Barkhad Abdi to star in Dubai director Neel Kumar's second feature 'Beneath a Sea of Lights'". The National.
  24. ^ McNary, Dave (11 July 2018). "Barkhad Abdi, Amy Smart, Rory Cochrane Join Family Drama 'Tyson's Run' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.

External linksEdit