Even though Abdi played a crucial role — and ad-libbed the biggest line in the film, “Look at me, I’m the captain now” — he was compensated two years ago with only the SAG minimum: $65,000. The film then went on to gross $55 million worldwide, earning Hanks a multi-million paycheck.
Of course, it makes little sense to compare the salary of a complete industry unknown with that of one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Abdi was playing an important, but ultimately replaceable role; Hanks had the weight of the movie on his shoulders. But even as critical raves and award buzz followed, the studio did little to change its treatment of Abdi.
After Abdi finished the film, he had to wait until it was released and reviewed. In the meantime, he could not find any more acting opportunities in Hollywood and had to return home to work at his brother’s phone shop. “I had made up my mind that I wanted to be an actor but there were no jobs for me at the time because I didn’t have any other experience and the film wasn’t out so I decided to work with my brother rather than stay at home,” Abdi told the BBC.
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