Written by Kirk BairdMichael Clarke Duncan was a giant of a man, whose first big impression on moviegoers was as an innocent death row inmate with mysterious healing powers in 1999’s The Green Mile. His performance was nominated for an Oscar.
Duncan died Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, following complications from a heart attack he suffered in July. He was 54.
A former bodyguard, the 6-foot-5-inch Duncan turned to acting in his 30s, with his breakthrough coming in 1998’s Armageddon starring Bruce Willis. Willis was impressed with Duncan – enough to work with him again a year later in Breakfast of Champions and to recommend him for the role of John Coffey in The Green Mile. The pair would also work again in 2000’s The Whole Nine Yards and 2005’s Sin City.
Duncan also appeared in the 2001 Tim Burton remake of The Planet of the Apes, 2002’s The Scorpion King, 2003’s Daredevil, and 2006’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. With his bass-like voice, he was a natural for animated films as well. Duncan provided voices to the 2003 Spider-Man TV series as the villain Kingpin (which he also played in the live-action Daredevil), the leader bear Tug in Disney’s 2003 Brother Bear and its 2006 sequel, the rhinoceros Commander Vachir in 2008’s Kung Fu Panda, and the heroic CGI Green Lantern Kilowog in the 2011 live-action Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds.
The Green Mile
Kung Fu Panda
Planet of the Apes (2001)
The Scorpion King