Everything changed after Abdi went to an open casting call and got the role as Somali pirate “Muse” in the Oscar-nominated Tom Hanks film based on a true story.
While the film had a $55 million production budget, the first-time actor made just $65,000 for his time on the film.
To put the paycheck into perspective, the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) minimum is $60,000 before commissions and taxes for a feature film. Abdi’s fellow Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonah Hill took a similar $60,000 paycheck — but also pay cut — just to be able to work with director Martin Scorsese on “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”
But now two years after Abdi’s initial paycheck, a New Yorker story reveals that he is 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. 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 Minneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.”
While “Captain Phillips” has since raked in nearly $218 million worldwide, Abdi returned to Minneapolis after shooting and went to work for his brother’s mobile phone store.
When the movie premiered, Abdi quit the job and packed his bags for Hollywood — where he now lives with his “Captain Phillips” co-star and fellow Minnesotan, Faysal Ahmed.