- Created on 11 October 2013
MINNEAPOLIS -- MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When Barkhad Abdi and three other amateur Somali actors from Minnesota learned they had won major roles in a new Tom Hanks movie, they tore off their clothes and jumped into the Pacific Ocean.
"It was exciting," Abdi recalls of that day on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. "We had to make sure that wasn't a dream."
Abdi and his fellow actors from Minneapolis are now living that dream of red carpet premieres and Hollywood endings. The four portray Somali pirates who hijacked an American cargo ship off the Horn of Africa in 2009 and took its captain, played by Hanks, hostage in "Captain Phillips," opening Friday. The ordeal ended when U.S. Navy sharpshooters picked off three of the pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips captive in a lifeboat.
Abdi, 28, makes his acting debut in "Captain Phillips" as Muse, the pirates' skinny ringleader, and is generating supporting actor Oscar buzz for his performance. Before that, he had shot and edited videos but "nothing major," he said. Now he wants to make acting his career.
"It feels great, and a little bit scary," Abdi said of his new fame. "I was just kind of a private person (before the movie). This took part of my life."
Abdi and the other three Somali actors — Faysal Ahmed (the "muscle" of the pirates), Barkhad Abdirahman (the youngest pirate, nicknamed "Little B" by his castmates) and Mahat M. Ali (the lifeboat's navigator) — all answered an open casting call at the Brian Coyle Community Center, a hub of Minneapolis' large Somali population — in November 2011. Generic flyers sought actors for what was described only as a new Tom Hanks movie. Over 700 aspiring actors showed up, filling the center.
"There were so many people I just had to put every single person on tape," casting search director Debbie DeLisi said. Afterward she went to a friend's house where they watched every clip and voted yes, no or maybe. The video also was uploaded for the film's main casting director in Los Angeles.
DeLisi said she chose Minneapolis because the city has the largest population of Somalis in the U.S. (The U.S. Census says roughly 25,000 Somalis live in Minnesota, while local advocates peg the number as high as 100,000). Another casting call was held in Columbus, Ohio, also home to a growing Somali population, and submissions were accepted from England and Somalia.
In the end, the field was narrowed to the four Minneapolis actors, who all knew each other.
"I would say they were anointed," DeLisi said. After they were cast, DeLisi's assistant took the actors shopping for swim trunks at the Mall of America and made sure they had passports for Malta, where most of "Captain Phillips" was shot.
DeLisi said she was looking for "heart and grit" in the actors playing the pirates.
"It's not about jumping and being the bad guy," she said.
To capture the shock of the ragtag band of armed pirates storming the ship Maersk Alabama, British director Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Ultimatum," ''United 93") kept the Somali actors apart from Hanks until their first confrontation on the bridge.
"It's never an easy thing to scare someone you know and admire," Abdi said of facing off against Hanks. "For me, it was really a nerve-racking scene and I understood the weight of it."
Abdi and Ahmed recall Hanks as humble and always joking, and say the two-time Academy Award winner, for "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump," was their mentor.
In their first fight scene aboard the narrow lifeboat, the 6-foot-3 Ahmed says he accidentally grazed Hanks with his fist. Hanks shrugged it off, the two talked and a second fight scene filmed a couple days later went perfectly, Ahmed said.
"He was a really tough guy," Ahmed said.
Ahmed, 29, was born and raised in Yemen and came to the U.S. in 1999 at 14. He said the main motive for the pirates from war-torn Somalia was to get money. He tried to imagine himself that desperate.
"If you were put into that situation and only wanted to change your life, what would you do? For me, that's something I constantly thought about," Ahmed said.
Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and raised in Yemen. He came to the U.S. in 1999 when he was 14 with his parents and siblings, and said he also understands the pirates' motivations.
"What they're doing is bad. I totally agree with that," Abdi said. "I was fortunate to have parents who got me out. ... So they were stuck in this situation. And I feel compassion."
- Created on 10 October 2013
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Comic actor Craig Robinson was detained Wednesday for drug possession as he tried to leave the Bahamas and was ordered to pay a fine, authorities said.
The actor best known for his role as Darryl Philbin on NBC's "The Office" was stopped as he tried to board a plane in the capital, Nassau, and head back to the United States. Customs agents found a small amount of marijuana and pills deemed suspicious, said Supt. Stephen Dean of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
"It was nothing major," Dean said.
Robinson, who was in the Bahamas for a comedy show, was taken into custody and appeared before a magistrate, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of drug possession. Prosecutor Ercel Dorsett told the court that Robinson had a half gram of marijuana and 18 ecstasy pills.
The 41-year-old actor, who appeared calm in a shorts and T-shirt and was not accompanied by a lawyer, told the court he brought the drugs from the United States and did not know they were illegal in the Bahamas.
Magistrate Andrew Forbes ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and directed that he be turned over to authorities and removed from the country. He could have faced four years in prison.
A publicist for Robinson, Nicole Chabot, declined to comment. Blair Berk, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented the actor after a previous drug arrest, also declined comment.
In June 2008, police in Culver City, California, arrested Robinson on suspicion of possessing MDMA, also known as ecstasy, and methamphetamine. The charges were later dismissed after he completed a diversion program.
Robinson is familiar to many for his portrayal of Philbin, a warehouse foreman on "The Office." He has also appeared in movies such as the "Pineapple Express," ''Zach and Miri Make a Porn," and "Hot Tub Time Machine."
- Created on 10 October 2013
Lee Thompson Young, the star of such beloved shows as "The Famous Jett Jackson" and "Rizzoli & Isles," suffered from bipolar disorder and depression prior to his suicide two months ago, reveals a recently released coroner's report.
Young was found dead in his apartment on Aug. 19 after taking his own life. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner's report obtained by the New York Daily News, the 29-year-old was taking medication for his disorder. Lithium capsules and Quetiapine Fumarate tablets were found in his apartment, and both were detected in his blood.
The actor did not leave a suicide note behind. A witness quoted in the report told coroner's officials that Young did not make any suicide threats or attempts prior to taking his own life, and added she was unaware of any financial problems, NBC reports. E! News adds that the witness said Young was a social drinker who did not abuse narcotics.
The coroner's report goes on to describe the weapon Young used as a 40 caliber Sig Sauer semi-automatic handgun registered to him.
"Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed," Young's publicist told Us Weekly after his passing.
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- Created on 08 October 2013
Jackson dynasty matriarch, Katherine Jackson is reportedly hopping mad that her son Jermaine (pictured) is in debt to the rafters, yet he just plopped down a huge amount of cash to purchase a $160,000 Ferrari sports car (pictured), according to TMZ.
The pricey hot little Italian number was purchased smack dab in the middle of jury deliberations in the wrongful death suit that the Jackson family filed against concert promoter AEG Live. Earlier this month, the jury ultimately determined that AEG Live is not negligent in the death of the King of Pop and will not have to pay damages to the Jackson family.
According to published reports, Katherine recently bailed out Jermaine financially. Alejandra Oaziaza, who has two children with Jermaine’s brother Randy and two with him was reportedly strapped for cash, when the former Mrs. Jackson allegedly went to Jermaine to obtain rent money so she could keep a roof over her...