On the Verge: Barkhad Abdi on the seas with Tom Hanks

Lapacazo Sandoval | 10/17/2013, 1:43 p.m.
The film awards season—September through March—is upon us, and I’m confident that “Captain Phillips,” directed by Paul Greengrass and starring ...
"Captain Phillips"

BA:To get to work with all of the people in the film. We learned how a film gets made, and it really was all a great experience.

Also working with Tom Hanks was rewarding, but then the least rewarding part was having to wait to shoot our first scene with Tom Hanks.

AmNews:Explain. Film is all “hurry up and [now] wait.”

BA:Waiting was an experience. It was hard for me to scare Tom. I was lost in that scene: “How do I scare him?” I used a lot of my imagination to be in that character. I had to became that character. I did whatever I could to become Muse.

AmNews:Believe me, you became Muse. Shooting on an ocean—I can’t imagine how complicated that is. Is “hard” an accurate word to describe the experience?

BA:It was very hard. Every day, there was a new problem or difficulty. Whatever we were shooting, it was shot at sea. Skiffs weren’t easy. I would get sea sick at times, and I would fall. Plus, the life boat was smelly.

During those times, I really tried to stay in character. Those challenges shaped my character choices. The boat really smelled.

AmNews:What stands out as one of the best days of filming?

BA:The first scene—the village scene—was easy for me. It was shot on land. (Laughs)

AmNews:What would you say the film is really about?

BA:It is a story of two people with very different lifestyles. One went to school and college, got a job and had a family. He has his life on track. One lives in a torn-up part of the world. He didn’t go to school, and he sees this [pirating] as his only chance at a better life.

When these two people come together, with forces outside of their control, they both have to understand each other and live with each other.

AmNews:How do you like New York? You’ve been here before, right? And have you ever been to Harlem?

BA:I have been to New York, and I love Manhattan. I love the energy there. It’s a lot different than Minneapolis—in a good way. (Laughs)