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Barkhad Abdi: I Loved Acting, Decided To Give It A Chance

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Before he landed the role of a lifetime, opposite Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips," Barkhad Abdi had never acted.

"This was my first time acting, or even thinking about acting," says Barkhad Abdi about his role opposite Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips," based on a true story: the hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama.  Hanks stars as the title character, Capt. Richard Phillips, and Adbi plays Muse, the man who leads the charge against ship and crew.

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Read FOX 11's Araksya Karapetyan's take on Captain Phillips and actor Barkhad Abdi.

Abdi was born in Somalia and lived there until he was 7. At 14, Abdi moved from Yemen to Minneapolis, Minn., which is home to tens of thousands of Somalis.  His mother had a won a U.S. Visa in a lottery, he tells Steve Edwards and Maria Sansone on Good Day L.A.  He learned about the role from a local TV ad.  After a long day of waiting, during which 800 actors were trying to get the same job, he was asked a few questions and finally was handed a script for the character Muse.

Though some people in his life were worried about how the film would portray Somalia, Abdi says he had to take the opportunity. "I knew it was a true story, so it was just a chance that I could take," he told NPR.   "I hope people understand the culture clash between these very, very different characters, Capt. Phillips and Muse," Abdi says. "One had just, the normal life, you know, he went to school, college, graduated, family, and now he [has] a job. And the other one is just someone that grew up in a war-torn country, that had no hope, no school, no job, no government, nothing."

Fun Facts About "Captain Phillips"

1) Is a 2013 American action thriller directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks. The film is a biopic of merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.

2) The screenplay by Billy Ray is based upon the book, A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea (2010), by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. The film is produced by Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca. It was released on October 11, 2013 and had its premiere showing at the 2013 New York Film Festival.

3) Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of the American container ship MV Maersk Alabama, when in April 2009, it is hijacked off the coast of Somalia by a crew of Somali pirates led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Phillips endures a grueling ordeal, first on the ship, working to protect his crew, and then having been taken hostage, on a lifeboat.

‘Captain Phillips' is now playing in theaters.

Twitter: @RealBarkhad

Facebook: barkhad

Website: captainphillipsmovie.com

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