Pete Hammond

Barkhad Abdi had never acted before being plucked out of obscurity in Minneapolis (by way of his native Somalia and Yemen) to audition for director Paul Greengrass as the key Somali Pirate who takes over the cargo ship captained by Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips. Now he’s even being recognized when he walks down the street, he told me during our interview as part of Sony’s presentation at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event Saturday at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. There’s Supporting Actor Oscar buzz now too and getting to tell his story in front of the 500 AMPAS and Guild members present won’t hurt. He charmed the crowd.

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