Somalis wanted for new Tom Hanks film

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Photo at Brian Coyle Center by Jeff Thompson, MPR News

Hollywood is coming to Cedar-Riverside.

Casting consultants for an upcoming film starring Tom Hanks are holding auditions in the Minneapolis neighborhood, home to the nation’s largest concentration of Somali-Americans. Sony Pictures is seeking black actors, “preferably born in Africa … Especially seeking SOMALIS,” according to a casting notice being circulated.

It’s no secret why the first open call will be held in Minneapolis.

“We just looked at where there’s huge Somali populations,” said casting consultant Debbie DeLisi. “It may be our only stop, depending on the turnout.”

Hanks has signed on to play Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates who hijacked his ship in 2009.

The movie will be shot next year in New Orleans, and much of it will take place on the water, DeLisi said. The script centers on the “profound, mutual respect” between Capt. Phillips and the leader of the Somali pirates who captured him, she said.

The last time DeLisi worked on ethnic casting in the Twin Cities was for the Clint Eastwood movie “Gran Torino,” which focused on the unlikely friendship between a grizzled, white war veteran and his Hmong neighbor kids. At the St. Paul auditions, more than 900 people turned out over two days. About seven nabbed lead roles, DeLisi recalls.

Casting for the Capt. Phillips movie will be Nov. 5 at the Brian Coyle center, a popular community hub, especially for young people.

More info below:

MOVIE CASTING NOTICE – SONY PICTURES is seeking black actors or black non-actors, preferably born in Africa, for roles in the new Tom Hanks feature film “Capt. Phillips.” Especially seeking SOMALIS.

MEN (ages 15 – 45), WOMEN (20-30) and BOYS (7 – 10). Ages approximate.

Date: Saturday, November 5, 2011 Time: 10:30am – 4:30pm (anytime during these hours)

Location: BRIAN COYLE CENTER 420 15th Ave S. Mpls, MN 55454

Bring: Non-returnable current photo (if you have one).


There is never a fee to audition. Any such activity is fraudulent & should be reported at once.


Contact: Debbie DeLisi, Casting Consultant


(h/t Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl)