Abdi made his film debut in the 2013 film Captain Phillips, in which he played ship hijacker and pirate leader Abduwali Muse. For the role, he 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. Abdi’s experience in Captain Phillips was his first in the film industry. He was paid $65,000 for his role in the movie.
What’s it really like to be a non-actor thrust into the spotlight during Oscar season? Barkhad Abdi has some insight. The “Captain Phillips” star was the subject of a recent Talk of the Town piece in The New Yorker, where it was revealed that Abdi was paid just $65,000 for his work on the Tom Hanks film, a salary which he received two years ago. After production ended, Abdi sold mobile phones at a Minneapolis mall with his brother. He quit that job when “Captain Phillips” was released in October of last year and had been on the awards circuit ever since. (Abdi was an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor, an award he also won at the BAFTAs.)
“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. Recently, Abdi requested that he be allowed to stay at a commuter’s hotel near LAX, to be closer to his friend, a Somali cabdriver from Minneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.”As Business Insider notes, the Screen Actors Guild minimum for an actor is $60,000 — it’s the rate that Jonah Hill earned for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”