Under the Radar

Casting the Leads in 'Captain Phillips'

Tom Hanks

Navy SEALs rescued Capt. Richard Phillips after Somali pirates captured his boat in 2009, Phillips wrote a book about it and now there's a movie starring Tom Hanks. The new issue of  The Hollywood Reporter has a close look at how the movie got made and interviews Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, the first-time actor who plays the pirate leader, about how they got their parts.


Check out Military.com's "Captain Phillips" slideshow.

The Tom Hanks part is about like you'd expect: he's a big movie star, he'd met with Paul Greengrass for another project and was curious about working in the quick-cut style the director used in movies like United 93, The Green Zone and the pair of Bourne movies he'd directed.

Abdi's story is more surprising. After a failed search in and around Africa, the casting director decided to hold open auditions in the Somali refugee community around Minneapolis. Abdi was six years old and living in Mogadishu when the war broke out. His family escaped to Yemen and eventually emigrated to the United States when he was 14.

He struggled to learn English in high school and kicked around in a series of entry-level jobs until he saw an item about the audition on the local news. Greengrass cast him along with three friends and purposely decided that they shouldn't take acting lessons but should handle all the stunts themselves.

Check out the video above for footage of Hanks and Abdi's first meeting since they finished shooting the movie. Captain Phillips is in theaters October 11.

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