However Oscar night plays out this Sunday, Barkhad Abdi can’t really complain. The Somali-American actor, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing lead hijacker Abduwali Muse in Captain Phillips, came out of literally nowhere (he was working as a limo driver before answering a Minneapolis casting call) to steal Paul Greengrass’s thriller out from under Tom Hanks. Now, it appears that the extremely in-demand actor has finally locked down his next project, a marathon drama titled The Place That Hits The Sun.
The historical drama, which currently has Jim O’Hanlon (the 2009 Emma miniseries) attached to direct, will focus on Zulu warrior Willie Mtolo (Abdi), a famed South African marathoner who eventually competed in the 1992 New York Marathon. However, The Place That Hits The Sun will not be exclusively about Mtolo’s racing accomplishments. The film will primarily center on the unlikely friendship that forms between Mtolo and Caucasian bar owner Ray de Vries, defying the practice of apartheid rampant throughout South Africa at the time.
Expect this one to emerge as a feel-good awards contender, given Abdi’s red-hot status, the film’s true-history angle and the fact that My Left Foot producer Noel Pearson is involved. In addition to the Oscar nomination, Abdi’s Captain Phillips role has already earned the actor a BAFTA Award, two Black Reel Awards, and nominations for an SAG Award and a Golden Globe. Any project he signs on to in the near future will definitely be one to watch. That includes both The Place That Hits The Sun and Ciyaalka Xaafada, a film Abdi previously announced he will direct about the struggles faced by Somali immigrants in Minneapolis today.
Tell us, will you be rooting for Abdi this Sunday? And are you excited to see that The Place That Hits The Sun will serve as the actor’s next big-screen venture in front of the camera? Sound off in the comments section!