Minn. Somali stars of 'Captain Phillips' walk red carpet - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Minn. Somali stars of 'Captain Phillips' walk red carpet in St. Paul

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Minnesota's Capitol is celebrating the actors from Minnesota who star opposite Tom Hanks in the new movie "Captain Phillips," walking the red carpet at the St. Paul Theatre on Tuesday night.

Although the carpet may be shorter than those in Hollywood, actors like Faysal Ahmed arrived by limo to similar inspiring fanfare.

"I'm all smiles," Ahmed told FOX 9 News.

Two years ago, Ahmed went to a casting call in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood with three of his friends -- and 700 others who had dreams of appearing on the silver screen.

The Minnesota actors all got starring roles in the film, which chronicles the real-life story of a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates four years ago -- but the local stars didn't meet Hanks until the first day of shooting to create a dramatic tension.

Critics have loved the performance so far, and there's even talk of an Oscar for Barkahd Abdi, the lead pirate and a former limousine driver from Minneapolis. Abdi came to Minnesota when he was 14 and learned English from Jay-Z songs and "Seinfeld" reruns.

Even so, there's been some criticism of the portrayal of Somalis in the film, but Ahmed had something to say about the pirates.

"They didn't do this because they wanted to," he explained. "They were forced to."

When asked whether the film focuses on the conditions that lead to piracy, Ahmed said the movie does touch on it. FOX 9 News also asked if he is concerned that Somalis may be typecast as villains, which is a concern many Arab Americans have fostered for awhile. He replied that as long as Somali actors can play both the good and the bad, everything will be okay.

Yet, if art can imitate life, it also seems that sometimes, life can imitate art. So it was with one headline that appeared on Tuesday regarding pirates and Somalia. Authorities from Belgium captured a real-life pirate known as "Big Mouth" along with a former Minnesotan, Mohamed Ticeey. Undercover agents fooled the men into traveling to Brussels by luring them as consultants for a documentary film about piracy. Tiiceey, a former governor of a Somali region, is suspected of aiding the pirates.


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