R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan — An Actor Who Made Small Roles Big

| September 3, 2012 | Reply

AP reported earlier this evening that actor Michael Clarke Duncan is dead at the age of 54. He was rushed to the hospital last month after he suffered a heart attack and spent a couple of weeks in the ICU before doctors moved him to a regular room. He was a huge man — almost 6 1/2 feet tall and about 300 pounds — who had converted to a vegetarian lifestyle a couple or three years ago. I’ve not seen any information about whether his size or weight contributed to his heart attack or whether it was one of those unfortunate events that happen to we frail human beings.

I’m genuinely sad to read of Duncan’s death. There are few actors who make the movies they are in better and Duncan was one of them, though he never stole a flick again the way he did as John Coffey in The Green Mile. He was the bright spot in such forgettable movies as Armageddon, The Scorpion King, The Whole Nine Yards, Sin City, Talledega Nights, and Planet of the Apes. He lent his voice to a number of animated movies like Brother Bear and Kung-Fu Panda, and made a host of guest appearances on over a dozen television shows as well. What I liked most, though, is that he seemed like a man who thoroughly enjoyed his life without resorting to the sort of arrogant crapweaselry we see all too often from successful actors. He was a celebrity who I never saw flaunt his fame and I admired that.

Perhaps that humility came from his life before acting. He quit college and took work digging ditches and bouncing at bars to care for his sick mother. The bar experience led to bodyguard gigs in Los Angeles, which paid his bills while he looked for acting jobs. AFter the death of Notorious B.I.G., Duncan decided to go all-out as an actor and got a few roles as — what else? — a bouncer. Eventually, though, he got his big chance in The Green Mile and turned that performance into a career of which any actor would be proud.

My condolences to his family, his fiancee, and those who knew him and held him dear.

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Category: In Memoriam

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