Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi far from rich from 'Captain Phillips'
March 1, 2014, 4:56 PM EST
By Tim Molloy
Barkhad Abdi is in the running for Oscar gold Sunday, but real 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 profile reveals that he earned $65,000 for his performance in the $55 million film — more than two years ago. Now he finds himself struggling.
There's no saying how an Oscar might change his life. He already won a BAFTA for best supporting actor, and is now reading scripts in search of his next role.
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.
Also from TheWrap: 'Captain Phillips' Director Paul Greengrass Explains Why the Closing Scene With Tom Hanks Was So Authentic
"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 Oceander Goodyear. "Either way, I cannot be working here."
When Abdi is in Los Angeles to promote the film, Goodyear reports, he subsists on a per diem he can use at the Beverly Hilton, where the studio puts him up. A town car is available to the former limo driver, but only for official publicity events. He wears borrowed clothes.
Abdi recently asked if he could stay at a hotel near LAX, to be closer to a friend, a Somali cabdriver from Minneapolis, who will drive him places for free. Abdi himself formerly drove a town car for his brother's limousine company.
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.
He was working for the limo company when he saw an announcement that a film was looking for actors to play Somali pirates.
Interestingly, Abdi received more for "Captain Phillips" than fellow Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonah Hill did for "Wolf of Wall Street." But the news that Hill, a relative veteran, had received $60,000 for his role was greeted with widespread surprise. He said he agreed to work for scale for the chance to be in a Martin Scorsese film.
Related stories from TheWrap: