Barkhad Abdi

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Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi at LFCC Awards.jpg
Born (1985-04-10) April 10, 1985 (age 37)
Alma materRoosevelt High School
Minnesota State University Moorhead
Years active2013–present
AwardsBritish Academy Film Award, 2014

Barkhad Abdi (Somali: Barkhad Cabdi;[1] born April 10, 1985) is a Somali-American actor. 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), The Pirates of Somalia (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[edit]

Barkhad Abdi was born to Majeerteen parents 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.[3]

He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2003 and 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. He also worked as a limousine driver at a relative's chauffeur company and as a DJ.[5][6]


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.[7][8] He was cast following a worldwide search for the lead roles. Abdi and three other actors were 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".[9]

He was paid $65,000 for his appearance in the film and returned to working in his brother's shop afterwards.[10] For his work, Abdi was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, the latter of which he won.[11] Abdi's experience in Captain Phillips was his first in the film industry.[12]

In 2015, Abdi appeared in an episode of the series Hawaii Five-0, playing former warlord Roko Makoni.[13] Later that year, he began work on the comedy film Trainwreck, though he did not appear in the finished film.[14] He appeared in the 2015 thriller Eye in the Sky as Kenyan undercover agent Jama Farah, and he had a role in The Brothers Grimsby.[15]

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.[16] Abdi made his directorial debut with the Somali film Ciyaalka Xaafada. He has directed several music videos.[3]

In 2022, he appeared alongside Mel Gibson in Agent Game.[17]


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[edit]

Before entering the film industry, Abdi sold mobile phones at his brother's shop at a mall in Minneapolis. Currently[when?] he resides in Los Angeles, California,[19] as well as Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis, Minnesota.[20] The bump on his forehead is 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 Lights[22] Caweys
2022 Tyson's Run Aklilu
Agent Game Omar


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Hawaii Five-0 Roko Makoni 1 episode
2016 Family Guy Abduwali Muse Voice role
Episode: "Road to India"
2019 Castle Rock Abdi Omar Main role, 9 episodes
2021–2022 Blade Runner: Black Lotus Doc Badger Voice role
Main role, 6 episodes
TBA The Curse Upcoming series

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "Filim Soomaali jilay oo la magacaabay". BBC News Somali (in Somali). January 16, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  2. ^ "Entertainment Pop". January 21, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Production Notes". The Walt Disney Company Nordic. Retrieved October 19, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Reinisch, Leo. Die Somali-sprache: Texte. Vol. 1. A. Hölder, 1903.
  5. ^ "Oscar nod for Minneapolis' Barkhad Abdi in 'Captain Phillips'". KARE. Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Bertram, Colin (January 12, 2014). "2014 Golden Globes: Old Guard vs. New". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  7. ^ Ryan, Mike. "I Can't Believe I'm Doing A Scene With The Forrest Gump Guy!". HuffPost.
  8. ^ "Somali-American Actor Stars in 'Captain Phillips' Movie". Voice of America. October 11, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Captain Philips actor Abdi 'struggles' despite Oscar nomination". March 5, 2014.
  11. ^ "Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014.
  12. ^ Rottenberg, Josh. "Oscars 2014: Barkhad Abdi reacts to his Best Supporting Actor nomination". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "HAWAII FIVE-0 Recap "E 'Imi pono"". Seat42F. February 19, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  14. ^ "Judd Apatow's 'Trainwreck' Casts Up: Tilda Swinton, Barkhad Abdi and John Cena Sign On". March 18, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "'Blade Runner 2049': Barkhad Abdi Shares New Character Details". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Adeso Ambassador Barkhad Abdi appeals for Somali cyclone aid". Mareeg. December 6, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  19. ^ Lammers, Tim (March 5, 2014). "Report: Fresh off Oscar nomination, Barkhad Abdi 'dead broke'". Bringmethenews. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  20. ^ Kerr, Euan (October 14, 2016). "A boy-and-his-dog story, with a cultural twist". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  21. ^ Marsh, Steve (February 26, 2014). "Barkhad Abdi: A Pirate's Life". Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  22. ^ Ganglani, Poonam (July 27, 2018). "Neel Kumar's Beneath a Sea of Lights looks at an unseen side of Dubai". The Hindu. Retrieved October 14, 2022.

External links[edit]