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Closing Credits: Michael Clarke Duncan

MichaelClarkeDuncan.jpgI didn't know that Michael Clarke Duncan was ill so it was a shock to hear that the deep voiced huge actor had died after failing to recover from a heart attack he suffered in July. He was fifty-four and anyone who loves cinema will know his face or even recognise his voice.

He's starred in some iconic films and as a surprise to everyone delivered an amazingly emotive and engaging performance in The Green Mile. There was so much more to the man than the roles he was given based on his size alone, he had charisma galore and he could act.

Michael Clarke Duncan started his career in film and television rather late on in life, appearing in the television series Renegade and the film Friday at thirty-seven. His role in Friday, the F. Gary Gray film co-written by Ice Cube and D.J. Pooh starred a number of big names and although his role wasn't credited it did mark the beginning.

Television appearances followed, often as him playing a bouncer or bodyguard and no wonder he was an imposing figure of a man. Back in Business was his next role in 1997 but it was 1998 when his career really kicked off.

Caught Up and The Players Club were followed by Bulworth, the Warren Beatty film, and while he was still playing his typecast roles something bigger was round the corner and that came in the form of Michael Bay and Bear.

Armageddon really did get him noticed as he played one of the mismatch oil drilling crew that end up flying into space and trying to save the world. It's a great fun adventure and Duncan is superb in it, fitting easily into his role and playing the gentle giant with great timing and ability.

A Night at the Roxbury may have seen him playing the bouncer again but the film that followed in 1999 The Underground Comedy Movie saw him playing for comedy as a gay virgin, now that's a turnaround of character roles and definitely against type.

Breakfast of Champions also came that year and had a pretty big cast list, but The Green Mile followed and captured audiences' emotions not only for his character but also to the man himself. His performance of John Coffey, the man on death row convicted of raping and killing two white girls who has an amazing gift is utterly compelling and even up against Tom Hanks, David Morse, Barry Pepper, Sam Rockwell and more, he steals the show and has you turned upside down. He is truly fantastic in the film and not only is it an iconic film but also an iconic performance that won't be forgotten.

More big films followed, but not to the same standard of The Green Mile, The Whole Nine Yards in 2000, See Spot Run, Cats & Dogs, Planet of the Apes in 2001 and The Scorpion King in 2002, and as testament to the recognisability of the actor even in Planet of the Apes you knew which character he played as soon as he spoke.

Despite the 2003 Daredevil being a poor film and filled with a string of mis-castings he seemed ideally suited to the role of Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin, a role that seemed so easy for him.

Smaller roles followed with Brother Bear, D.E.B.S., George and the Dragon, Pursued and Racing Stripes rising to Sin City in 2005 dipped by Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone and up again in a brief role in The Island in the same year. Duncan definitely kept working.

The roles continued with a huge list of titles from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to Kung Fu Panda, from Redemption Road to Green Lantern. Yes, Duncan definitely did like his acting.

Undoubtedly though, in film, he will be known for The Green Mile and Armageddon, and that's nothing to be ashamed of for both have huge audiences and both reveal what a versatile, charismatic and emotive actor he was.

The thoughts of Filmstalker and the readers are, as always, with his family and friends.

Michael Clarke Duncan



don't forget slammin' salmon


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