Back to IndieWire

‘Captain Phillips’ Star & Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Is Reportedly Broke

'Captain Phillips' Star & Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Is Reportedly Broke

While Jonah Hill revealed that he worked for peanuts ($60,000) on Martin Scorsese‘s “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” the reality is that he can easily afford the pay cut. But for real people, sixty thousand dollars is real money, and for a fellow Oscar nominee, it may not be enough.

A recent New Yorker story on “Captain Phillips” star Barkhad Abdi — who plays Muse, the leader of the group of pirates who take on Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass‘ film — reveals he was paid a total of $65,000 for his part in the movie, and is now struggling to make ends meet. Now, the low figure isn’t entirely surprising. This is the actor’s first role ever, so it’s not like a big pay day was ever on the table (and even Hanks and Greengrass didn’t take their usual rate to make the movie). Abdi was selected out of a casting call in a story the stuff that fairy tales (and Oscar campaigns) are made of — Abdi’s family are Somalian refugees who escaped the violence in the country by going to Yemen, and then making their way to U.S. where they settled near Minneapolis. And that’s where Abdi was working, at a mobile phone store, after filming on “Captain Phillips” wrapped, but once the movie hit theaters he moved to L.A. hoping to springboard off his new found fame.

But he’s apparently since been having financial struggles, with Sony providing a minimum of support. You might think with “Captain Phillips” earning over $210 million worldwide, they could kick a bonus over to their Oscar nominee. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Per the New Yorker: 

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 hotel near LAX to be closer to his friend, a Somali cabdriver from Miinneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.

Again, you would think Sony could at least give the actor a wardrobe and a few other things that would’ve made his first Oscar experience a little more memorable. Especially if he’s going out to stump for the movie for them.

At any rate, Abdi has more roles on the horizon, recently signing up to star in the marathon runner drama, “The Place That Hits The Sun.” But if anything, this story is an indication that the industry can be a very tough one to keep you head above water, even if you’re an Oscar nominee. [The Wrap]

This Article is related to: News and tagged ,


Phil Cole

Barkhad Abdi was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actor and didn’t win.

I don’t know if he was robbed or given the award as a courtesy because his role in Captain Phillips is likely to be his only film.

The 1946 winner didn’t act again until 1980.

I was led to believe he was a cab driver. It turns out he was a limousine driver. While waiting for the computer to look it up I concocted a 40-year, 40-film career plan for him, embracing his cab driving talents.

1. He plays a cab driver in a comic film about a man mistaken for a lookalike criminal. The man and a new girlfriend have to race across town to avoid both the cops and other mobsters. The girl doesn’t know how much danger the man is in and spends the whole trip talking about how much the driver looks like Barkhad Abdi.

2. A bigot boards the cab and says terrible things about several different categories of blacks. When he mentions how Barkhad Abdi didn’t deserve his nomination, he drops him off three blocks early.

3. Five nubile girls board the cab. The black one sits beside him and tries to flirt by every method. Frustrated by his rejection, she finally asks if he’s gay. “No, Somalian.” “what’s a Somalian she asks another after getting out. “He must have had a sex change” she guesses.

4. Two passengers talk about movies, including a long debates about the merits of Captain Phillips. They talk about the supporting cast, saying bad things about Barkhad Abdi. At the end he lectures them at length about how difficult the role was.

5. A man enters the cab, staring at him incessantly. He reacts to Abdi’s accent and guesses his nationality wrongly again and again. Abdi finally tells him Somalian. The man knows a lot about Somalia and they talk about language, history and culture. As the man leaves he tells him most people tell him he looks like the actor from Somalia. The man reveals he’s blind.

6. In a cameo he is told he looks like Barkhad Abdi. He reveals he really is and hasn’t acted since Captain Phillips.

7. In a science-fiction film a teenage bigot from the southern US in the 1930s tinkers with items in his father’s garage and creates a time machine that takes him 200 years into the future. Everything is opposite and white people can’t get a cab, so Abdi refuses. Later he gets covered in soot so Abdi gives him a ride.

8. Cab Wars: Abdi gets second billing in a futuristic film about cabs fighting each other.

9. A few minutes into the film a terrorist hijacks his cab and makes him drive cross-country, leading to a crisis finale.

10. Cab Wars 2: Abdi killed the villain from the original and gets first billing at last in the tense sequel.

11: Herbie gets reincarnated as a cab.

12. Cab Wars 3-Bloodsport

13. Remake of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with a cad reworked.

14: Somali Cab Company: He becomes a tycoon.

15: Cab Wars 4-Cabs in Space.

16: Pilot for tv series Cab Empire: He plays an entrepreneur with a mob connection.

17: Hunger Cabs: Katniss goes nuts in sequel to the long-running series.

18: Sharkcabnado: Cabs and sharks get merged and cause more trouble.

19: Pilot: Taxi Africa: adaptation of the tv series set in Africa.

20: Cab In the Sky: Adaptation of Cabin in the Sky, musical comedy with Amber Riley.

21. Undercover Cabbie: Sequel to Undercover Brother. He has to teach the detective to drive a cab.

22. Sea Cab: Futuristic film about people using cabs at sea.

23. Cab Pirates: He plays the equivalent of Captain Phillips.

24. Decline and Fall of a cab Driver: Adaptation of Death of a Salesman.

25. Herbiestein: Sequel to #11. Herbie’s parts turn a hybrid cab into a monster.

26. Pilot-My mother the Cab: Adaptation of My Mother the Car.

.27. Ride of a Lifetime: He takes his terminally ill teenage daughter cross country.

28. Cabbie for the Mob: Retired and dying, he tells his life story to his children, taking gangsters places. Flashbacks with a younger actor dominate.

29. Confessions of a dying Cabbie: A different cabbie, using extra footage from the preceding film, admits to a variety of bad activities.

30. Last Cab on the Left: Horror film about a psychotic cabbie.

31. The Cab from Hell: As Cab Company manager he must destroy a cab that is demon possessed.

32. Remake of Taxi Driver: All African cast.

33: Documentary: Cab and Culture

34. Documentary: It’s not Fare.

35. Pilot: Cab in the Family: Archie Bunker in reverse.

36. Cabbie for the President: He drives the President around incognito.

37. Cabbie as President. Sequel, the President gets sick and he runs the country for a month, knowing more secrets than most.

38. Memories of the Cabbie President: Years later he tells the funnier stories of the last two.

39: Documentary: Film’s greatest cab Rides.

40: Memoir: How to succeed in Hollywood Without really Trying. He recaps the career above.

Alex C

Unfortunately another potential star lost and forgotten by Hollywood. I considered Abdi's acting to be one of the best in the film, comparable to Hanks, if not better.

BIG Mel..

Why can't anyone findout Mr. Tons. Or uncle Toms salary????

Aaron Devon

He made the $65,ooo two years ago. The problem is he had to live off of that once he moved to Hollywood. I bet he only saw about $40,000 of that. So he spent $20,000 per year. Hopefully he will get some new roles and make some money.

BIG Mel..

Why can't anyone findout Mr. Tons. Or uncle Toms salary????


Jesus. He got nominated his first time out. Someone tip the man.

Common decency escapes the 1%-ers and then they wonder why they are guillotined by press and public…

Billy C

I agree with him getting a bonus. They're taking advantage of him because it's his first film. Sure… You can say he doesn't have much experience or maybe he's not the best looking actor. Most people in Hollywood get face lifts and get their teeth capped anyways. I bet $100,000 of surgery to just his teeth, you couldn't tell the difference from his teeth and any other Hollywood actor. He should be getting a bonus, especially if he was nominated for an oscar. The $65,000 will go away quickly. He's got a job agent, lawyers, rent, transportation, clothes, entertainment, medical expenses, cable, internet, he probably doesn't have any endorsements yet…


Slavery! They should at least find someone that will fix his teeth.


While I get that he's trying to launch his career but perhaps he would have been wise to stay in Minnesota, working as a limo driver, until AFTER his nomination. His nomination raised his profile to a level of A-listers, like Julie Roberts who can live outside of Hollywood, but still have their agents/managers looking out for parts for them. …Now that he's so well known, in Hollywood, he could, presumably, continue to live and work in Minnesota until things jump off with his acting career.


Very few people make real money in Hollywood. People think b/c you're in one or two things you're rich. Never the case.


I really don't know if he'll with stand the hollywood life he is ugly af


This is seriously disturbing!!! This is truly American hollywood… how many other first time white actors get paid hundred thousands to do simple shit in a film that doesn't even get nominated… this is truly ashame!!!!


I'm sorry but $65K for someone who is was chauffeur is a decent amount. I am sure he should have a residual income coming in soon as well as other offers.

Civilian Warfare

Ummmmm…. obviously no one told him about residuals.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *