The term, Overnight Sensation is a term that gets overused so much at this point that is actually getting to be a little offensive, however once in a while it is actually true. Barkhad Abdi star of "Captain Phillips" now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand has gone from obscurity to an Academy Award nomination in a pretty short amount of time. I got to talk to him recently about his experiences with the film including why he auditioned, his time on set and what he never expected during all of this incredible experience.
Dave Voigt: How are you today?
Barkhad Abdi: Good, how are you?
DV: Obviously your life has had a pretty unique path going from Mogadishu, to Minnesota and now to Hollywood. Can you tell me a little bit about the casting call process that led to you being involved with "Captain Phillips"?
BA: I saw an ad on TV that they were doing a casting call for a Tom Hanks movie so I decided to go there and give it a chance. There was a pretty big number of people there well into the hundreds and on the first day they just asked me some pretty standard questions, like my name, where I was born, stuff like that and they assigned me a character with a script to study. I came back the next day and there were less people now, somewhere in the forties and I auditioned the first time, then they told me to be a part of a group of four and I looked around at my friends who were there with me and we each realized that we had different characters, so on that first day we auditioned together as a group and then we would go home and practice and after a few auditions we got a call from the casting director Francine Maisler to go meet with the director Paul Greengrass who then gave us the job! (Laughs)
DV: It's not every day that your first ever film ends up being this big budget action thriller, on those first few days on set did you have any one who took you under their wing to mentor you because I can imagine that you were pretty nervous?
BA: You know actually my first few days were actually spent on training. I had to learn how to swim, I had never learned, plus I had to learn how to fight, how to properly hold a weapon things like that. I had to learn how to stand up and stay steady on those skiffs that were moving pretty fast.
DV: So that was you on the boats doing your stunts.
BA: Oh yeah.
DV: Anytime anybody gets involved or does anything in the movies it's because they were a fan first, what kind of movies do you like and inspired you to get into this business?
BA: Really, I am all over the place, comedies, everything?
DV: Is it true you has aspirations to direct before you became an actor?
BA: Oh yes, I liked directing first and foremost and that's kind of how I was more introduced to acting. But I like acting a lot more now! (Laughs)
DV: Did you get any tips from Tom Hanks? I can imagine that being on set with him was a pretty unique experience.
BA: Oh yeah, it was a unique experience and Tom helped me out a lot. It was a real honor working with him, he is just such a humble and hard working guy that I really learned a lot. To see how fast he switch on the character is something that I really didn't expect.
DV: On top of getting the movie made and being on the cover of the DVD and Blu-Ray you are now getting the chance to walk the red carpet at all of these awards shows, which I could I imagine being a really surreal experience.
BS: You know it really is just such an honor. To get the Oscar nomination is such a humbling thing, it is really unbelievable but to be honest I really try not to think about it and just make the best of it all.
DV: Well you have to think about it a little bit, is the acceptance speech ready just in case?
BA: Oh yeah, Oh yeah...it's not quite 100% ready yet but I'm not walking in there without a speech ready.
DV: If for some reason this all ended tomorrow, what is the one thing or the one experience that you'll be able to take away from this entire journey and remember for the rest of your life?
BA: Being nominated for the Oscar, I didn't see that coming at all.
DV: Nice, thanks again for the time today and good luck going forward.
BA: Thank you man.
"Captain Phillips" is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand for rent and purchase from all major providers and retailers.