Who Stars In Captain Phillips? Cast And Character Guide Explored

Captain Phillips, now on Netflix, stars Tom Hanks as the titular captain in the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, with a breakout performance by Barkhad Abdi as pirate leader Muse.

Published on Jul 06, 2024  |  12:18 PM IST |  54.5K
Captain Phillips (PC: IMDB)
Key Highlight
  • Hanks' portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips received widespread acclaim
  • Abdi's portrayal of pirate leader Muse won him a BAFTA Award

Captain Phillips had a mix of established Hollywood actors and those who were just starting out. It is available on Netflix, having been released as an adaptation of the Maersk Alabama pirate attack of 2009. The lead role is taken by Tom Hanks. He plays Captain Richard Phillips who is kidnapped by pirates led by Muse, a rising actor. The film tells the story of the power struggle between the pirates and crew with Philipps’ life in danger.

Critical acclaim and realism

It was directed by Paul Greengrass to widespread critical acclaim when it was released in 2013. On Rotten Tomatoes, this movie has an impressive rating of 93%. The intense realism with which the hijacking is depicted constituted one of its greatest strengths according to reviewers. Cinematography at times uses a documentary style that throws viewers into highly-charged environments using Greengrass’s hand-held camera work techniques. 

Tom Hanks’ final scene performance received much praise from critics especially because his character was portrayed so pathetically. But the pirate Muse stole part of his thunder; they won him Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTA.

Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

Actor profile

Born in Concord, California, Tom Hanks is beloved by many for his roles in Hollywood movies. His acting career began during the early 1980s when he appeared in some TV shows like Splash (1984). Some other films that have contributed to his fame include Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, and Philadelphia.


Throughout his career, including Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away and The Green Mile, Hank made some very solid films during the 1990s-2000s. In recent years he has continued to deliver outstanding performances in roles such as Bridge Of Spies, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, and A Man Called Otto. Hanks’ versatility as an actor is demonstrated by his career history.

Character profile

Captain Richard Phillips is an experienced captain who comes under attack. As the captain of the Maersk Alabama, he steers the ship through risky waters near Somalia with careful consideration for his crew’s safety. Being a quick thinker and resolute are major personal qualities that become evident when the pirates take over the ship. It is Phillips’ resilience and nervousness during times of high stress that make him such a compelling protagonist, revealing his deep sense of duty during this terrifying experience.

Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse


Actor profile

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Barkhad Abdi made his debut in Captain Phillips. He won a BAFTA award for this breakthrough role and was nominated for Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild. Since then he has featured in other movies such as Eye In The Sky, Good Time, The Pirates Of Somalia and Blade Runner 2049. Additionally, he starred in the second season of Hulu's Castle Rock television show and played recurring roles on Showtime’s The Curse TV series.

Character profile

Abduwali Muse is the pirate responsible for holding hostages aboard Maersk Alabama seeking ransom. Muse possesses both calculated aggression and desperation within himself. Through piracy, he seeks to better the lives of fellow Somalis out of a burning sense of injustice. These two complexly conflicting aspects appear in the interaction between Muse And Captain Phillips which shows scenes where they respect one another while at the same time being afraid of each other because he seems ruthless but also very vulnerable.


Supporting cast and characters

Adan Bilal (played by Barkhad Abdirahman)

Playing the role of Adan Bilal, a pirate who is under Muse’s command. Since 2013, Abdirahman has acted in Ayaanle, which was nominated for an Oscar for best live-action short film, Watu Wote: All of Us, and another movie dubbed A Stray.

Nour Najee (Faysal Ahmed)

Another pirate Nour Najee played by Faysal Ahmed. He later played a role in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, A Stray, and Watu Wote: All of Us.

Walid Elmi (Mahat M. Ali)

Mostly recognized through his portrayal of Walid Elmi in Captain Phillips; Mahat M Ali has since appeared in Neighborhoods.

ALSO READ: What Is Tom Hanks And Forrest Gump Director Robert Zemeckis' New Film Here About? All We Know So Far


Who directed Captain Phillips?
Paul Greengrass directed the film, known for his handheld camera work and documentary-style realism.

What is Captain Phillips about?
The film is based on the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates and the ordeal of Captain Richard Phillips.

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About The Author

Shovan has a Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism degree from Calcutta University. He loves to live in the



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