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New Tom Hanks Movie Features Minnesota Somali Actors

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Four amateur Somali actors from Minnesota are playing major roles in a new Tom Hanks movie opening this weekend.

The men portray real-life Somali pirates in “Captain Phillips.” The pirates hijacked an American cargo ship off the Horn of Africa in 2009 and took its captain, played by Hanks, hostage.

Twenty-eight-year-old Barkhad Abdi of Minneapolis is making his movie debut as the pirates’ ringleader. Abdi is generating supporting actor Oscar buzz and says he wants to make acting his career.

The four actors all answered an open casting call in Minneapolis in November 2011. Minneapolis was chosen because it’s home to the largest Somali population in the U.S.

The casting search director says she was looking for “heart and grit” in the actors playing the pirates.

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