The Oscar-nominated film was Abdi's first film role. He had been living in Minneapolis after immigrating there from war-torn Somalia and saw an open call for actors to play Somali pirates in the Tom Hanks flick.
After filming was over, he got a job at his brother's mobile phone store in Minneapolis, where he quit right before "Captain Phillips" came out.
“How I thought about it was, like, When the movie came out, reviews either gonna be good or bad,” he said. “Either way, I cannot be working here.”