At age 54, actor and soon-to-be husband Michael Clarke Duncan passed away Monday, September 3rd at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In a statement released by publicist Joy Fehily, Duncan had, ”suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered.” Duncan leaves behind his mother Jean, his sister Judith, his fiancee reality TV star/actress Omarosa Manigault, and of course, us – his adoring fans.
Duncan and his sister were raised by his mother in Chicago, and he had always been interested in acting. But, in order to pull in some extra cash, the 6’5″ and 315 lb Duncan worked as a ditch digger and club bouncer. His colossal stature also made him an ideal bodyguard, and he ended up working for celebs like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, and even Notorious B.I.G. Alongside these gigs, Duncan picked up small acting parts in TV and commercials.
After striking up a friendship with Bruce Willis on the set of Armageddon, Duncan landed his breakout role in 1999 as death row inmate John Coffey in Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile. Among the many awards Duncan gained for The Green Mile, the most notable was a Best Supporting Actor nomination for an Academy Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
Michael’s moving portrayal soon gained several other roles in films like The Whole Nine Yards, Planet of the Apes, and Daredevil. Throughout his career, he has starred in four movies with Bruce Willis (Armageddon, Breakfast of Champions, The Whole Nine Yards, and Sin City). Duncan is known for giving eerily realistic portrayal of characters, often so intense, it’s hard to remember he’s acting. For his role as Kingpin in Daredevil, Duncan had to gain over 40 pounds on his already giant frame.
But Duncan certainly reminds you he is just a regular person like you and me. In a 2009 PETA Campaign, he addressed the health benefits and increased strength he received from a new vegetarian diet. Duncan wasn’t just an actor known for his epic size and heart, but also his booming voice. Michael lent his voice to several animated projects through his career like the Brother Bear films and video games like God of War II. He also gave a voice to one of the heroes in Green Lantern, the ring bearing alien Kilowog. Most recently he starred as Leo Knox in the Fox series “The Finder”.
As Duncan became more recognizable and well known, he earned more roles in films and guest spots on television, turning Michael Clarke Duncan into not just an actor but an icon. When any life is cut short, it’s important to look at the impact the person made, and how their legacy will live on. Michael Clarke Duncan’s large build and even larger heart will continue to warm the spirits of movie lovers for years, but he will always be missed.
Interview with Duncan:
What are your favorite roles from the great Michael Clarke Duncan? What will you miss most about the lovable big guy?