News Column

Proctor native has speaking role in 'Captain Phillips'

October 16, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 16--Pay attention when the military boards the Maersk Alabama in the movie

"Captain Phillips": Beneath the riot gear in the role of a VBSS commander is a Proctor native.

Len Anderson IV got a bit of screen time in the high-action scene from the movie about the titular merchant mariner who was taken hostage aboard the ship during a hijacking on the Indian Ocean in 2009.

"What I do is come in, we take over the bridge, secure the ship and escort them to the embassy," Anderson said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "It's three or four lines."

This is the biggest production Anderson, a part-time actor/part-time pilot for FedEx/part-time Marine Corps reservist, has been cast in. It's a role he got because of his military background and his connection to producer Dana Brunetti, he said. The filmmakers were looking for actors who could bring authenticity to the role of military personnel.

"They called from Europe and said, 'Where are you and can you get here?' " Anderson said.

Anderson was in Malta for 10 days and filmed about five or six takes aboard the Maersk Alabama. He met star Tom Hanks during filming and described the actor as: "Tom Hanks is exactly like Tom Hanks. He is just like you would expect. Really a down-to-earth guy."

Anderson's name makes the movie's closing credits, and he's listed on IMDb.

"I don't claim it to be any kind of break-out role," he said, adding that some of his friends have joked that Tim Robbins was discovered even though he had only a few lines in the movie "Top Gun."

Anderson attended the movie's premiere in late

September at the Lincoln Center and the cast party at the Harvard Club in New York City. Richard Phillips was at the screening and received a standing ovation, he said.

Anderson started acting as a kid at the Duluth Playhouse. He was the mayor of Munchkinland and Peter Pan. He also was part of the local cast of a touring show starring Luciano Pavarotti. After graduating from Proctor High School in 1989, he joined the Marine Corps.

In 2003, he entertained local audiences in a different way. He flew an F/A-18 fighter jet as one of the Blue Angels during the Duluth Air and Aviation Expo.

Anderson's professional acting career has included voice work for "Transformers" and "Castle" and an episode of "General Hospital." He is married, has two children and divides his time between Pensacola, Fla., Fort Worth, Tex., and Los Angeles. He also is a writer, favoring action feature-length screenplays and dabbling in television.

Anderson isn't the only Minnesotan in the movie. Four Somali actors from Minneapolis -- Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahat M. Ali -- made their big-screen debut as pirates in it. According to the Associated Press, Abdi, who plays the ringleader Muse, is getting Oscar buzz for his supporting role.

It's a first brush with fame for the actors.

"It feels great and a little bit scary," Abdi told the Associated Press. "I was just kind of a private person (before the movie). This took part of my life."

"Captain Phillips," directed by Paul Greengrass, is a dramatic biopic based on the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirate, Navy SEALs, and the Dangerous Days at Sea," by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine said of it: "This is acting of the highest order in a movie that raises the bar on what a true-life action thriller can do."

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(c)2013 Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)

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