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Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi at LFCC Awards.jpg
Born (1985-04-10) April 10, 1985 (age 36)
OccupationActor, director
Years active2013–present

Barkhad Abdi (Somali: Barkhad Cabdi;[1] born April 10, 1985) is a Somali–American actor and director. He made his acting debut as Somali pirate Abduwali Muse in the biographical drama film Captain Phillips (2013), which earned him a British Academy Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, along with Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Following his breakthrough, Abdi appeared in the films Eye in the Sky (2015), Good Time (2017), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Outside of film, he was featured as a series regular on the second season of the Hulu horror anthology Castle Rock (2019).

Early life

Barkhad Abdi was born on April 10, 1985 in Mogadishu, Banaadir, Somalia. 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.[2][3] In 1999, Abdi and his family relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there is a large Somali community. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2003 and subsequently attended Minnesota State University Moorhead.[3] The name Barkhad in the Somali language literally means cistern, with water representing life.[4] Before entering the film industry, Abdi sold mobile phones at his brother's shop at a mall in Minneapolis.[5] He also worked as a limousine driver at a relative's chauffeur company and as a DJ.[6][7]


Abdi during the Eye in the Sky premiere at the Toronto Film Festival 2015
Abdi during the Eye in the Sky premiere at the Toronto Film Festival 2015

Abdi made his debut in the 2013 film Captain Phillips, playing ship hijacker and pirate leader Abduwali Muse.[8][9] 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".[10] He was paid $65,000 for his appearance in the film and returned to working in his brother's shop afterwards.[11] 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.[12] Abdi's experience in Captain Phillips was his first in the film industry.[13]

In 2015, Abdi appeared in an episode of the series Hawaii Five-0, playing former warlord Roko Makoni.[14] Later that year, he began work on the comedy film Trainwreck, though he did not appear in the finished film.[15] He also appeared in the 2015 thriller Eye in the Sky, playing Jama Farah, and he had a role in The Brothers Grimsby.[16]

In the 2017 film The Pirates of Somalia, Abdi played the Somali government-sponsored local agent and translator for Canadian freelance journalist Jay Bahadur. His character 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. In October 2017, Abdi featured in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049, in a minor role of a scientist.[17] Abdi made his directorial debut with the Somali film Ciyaalka Xaafada, and he has also directed several music videos.[3]


In 2013, Abdi began to serve as an Ambassador for Adeso, a non-governmental organisation founded by the Somali environmentalist Fatima Jibrell.[18]

Personal life

Abdi resides in Los Angeles, California,[19] as well as Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis, Minnesota.[20] The notable lump on his forehead comes from a car accident he was in prior to auditioning for Captain Phillips.[21]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Captain Phillips Abduwali Muse
2015 Eye in the Sky Jama Farah
2016 Grimsby Tabansi Nyagura
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
2020 Beneath a Sea of Light[22] Caweys
TBA Tyson's Run Aklilu Post-production
TBA Agent Game TBA Post-production[23]


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Hawaii Five-0 Roko Makoni Episode: "E 'Imi pono"
2016 Family Guy Abduwali Muse Voice
Episode: "Road to India"
2019 Castle Rock Abdi Omar 9 episodes
2021 Blade Runner: Black Lotus Doc Badger Voice

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ "Filim Soomaali jilay oo la magacaabay". BBC News Somali (in Somali). 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  2. ^ "Entertainment Pop". Jan 21, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Production Notes". The Walt Disney Company Nordic. Retrieved 19 October 2013.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Reinisch, Leo. Die Somali-sprache: Texte. Vol. 1. A. Hölder, 1903.
  5. ^ Goodyear, Dana (3 March 2014). "The Pictures - Contender". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Oscar nod for Minneapolis' Barkhad Abdi in 'Captain Phillips'". KARE. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  7. ^ Bertram, Colin (12 January 2014). "2014 Golden Globes: Old Guard vs. New". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  8. ^ Ryan, Mike. "I Can't Believe I'm Doing A Scene With The Forrest Gump Guy!". HuffPost.
  9. ^ "Somali-American Actor Stars in 'Captain Phillips' Movie". Voice of America. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Captain Philips actor Abdi 'struggles' despite Oscar nomination".
  12. ^ "Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03.
  13. ^ Rottenberg, Josh. "Oscars 2014: Barkhad Abdi reacts to his Best Supporting Actor nomination". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  14. ^ "HAWAII FIVE-0 Recap "E 'Imi pono"". Seat42F. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Judd Apatow's 'Trainwreck' Casts Up: Tilda Swinton, Barkhad Abdi and John Cena Sign On". 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "'Blade Runner 2049': Barkhad Abdi Shares New Character Details". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  18. ^ "Adeso Ambassador Barkhad Abdi appeals for Somali cyclone aid". Mareeg. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  19. ^ Lammers, Tim (5 March 2014). "Report: Fresh off Oscar nomination, Barkhad Abdi 'dead broke'". Bringmethenews. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  20. ^ Kerr, Euan (14 October 2016). "A boy-and-his-dog story, with a cultural twist". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  21. ^ Marsh, Steve (February 26, 2014). "Barkhad Abdi: A Pirate's Life". Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  22. ^ "Oscar-nominee Barkhad Abdi to star in Dubai director Neel Kumar's second feature 'Beneath a Sea of Lights'". The National.
  23. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 23, 2021). "Jason Isaacs, Barkhad Abdi & Adan Canto Board Indie Spy Thriller 'Agent Game'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved April 25, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 September 2021, at 22:03
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