Captain Phillips star on the red carpet
Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi says attending the Academy Awards is "the highlight of my life."PT1M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-346tz 620 349 March 5, 2014
It's no secret that many of the actors at the Oscars were wearing borrowed clothes and jewellery after being feted by designers keen for a priceless plug. But not many would have been lent a suit because they couldn't afford one.
Barkhad Abdi narrowly missed out on the Oscar for best supporting actor, but it seems he's also lost out on cashing in on the box-office bounty of Captain Phillips.
Actors Barkhad Abdi, left, and Faysal Ahmed at the Oscars ceremony. Photo: Getty Image
And, despite racking up a string of nominations for the role, his clothes are borrowed and he survives on a daily allowance paid by the studio.
The movie, which stars Abdi as the pirate group's leader Abduwali Muse, has drawn $US218 million worldwide on a budget of $55 million.
But The New Yorker has reported that Abdi, 28, was paid just $US65,000 by the studio two years ago, and, while in Los Angeles to promote the film, he survives on a per diem, the studio pays for his accommodation and his clothes are loaned.
Barkhad Abdi as a pirate in Captain Phillips. Photo: Supplied
Abdi lived in Somalia and Yemen before immigrating to the US in 1999, when he was 14.
He was working as a limo driver for his brother's company in Minneapolis when he saw an ad for an open casting call for Somalis for the Paul Greengrass film, which also stars Tom Hanks.
He tried out with three men from his apartment complex, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali and Barkhad Abdirahman, all of whom were later flown to Los Angeles to meet Greengrass who delivered the news that they had been cast.
Cab driver turned actor Barkhad Abdi. Photo: Getty Images
At the time, Abdi did not even have an agent. Following the nine-week shoot, he returned to Minneapolis, working for his brother in a mobile phone shop, although he quit on the day of the film's premiere.
Abdi's debut role scored him the BAFTA for best supporting actor, and the Oscar nomination alongside Bradley Cooper, Jonah Hill and the category's winner Jared Leto (for Dallas Buyers Club). He was also nominated in the category for the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild.
He is yet to star in any productions following Captain Phillips, based on the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009, but said he plans to move to LA following the Oscars.
He has reportedly been in talks over starring in The Place That Hits the Sun, a drama about South African marathon runner Willie Mtolo, who won the New York marathon in 1992 once sanctions against South African athletes competing internationally were lifted.