Biography of Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael Clarke Duncan is a popular black American actor, a unique nugget who managed to independently escape from poverty and build a dizzying career in Hollywood. Popularity came to Duncan thanks to his role in the film “Armageddon”, on the set he met Bruce Willis, who became his good friend and godfather in the world of big cinema. The most memorable role of Duncan is the good-natured giant John Coffey, who has paranormal abilities, from the drama The Green Mile.
Michael Clarke Duncan
Childhood and youth
The future actor was born and raised in Chicago (Illinois). He does not remember his father, and his mother, Jean Duncan, raised Michael and his sister Judy alone. The family lived in poverty, my mother barely made ends meet to feed the children and provide them with everything they needed.
Michael from early childhood was a physically strong, athletic guy. He played basketball well, was fond of American football, but due to family circumstances, his sports career did not work out. As a teenager, he got involved with local street gangs, but his mom quickly knocked the crap out of his head with a cast-iron skillet.
Michael Clarke Duncan from youth to adulthood
At school, Michael studied well and, having received a certificate, began to study communications at Elcorn University (Mississippi), one of the first American universities for black students.
Unfortunately, he failed to get a diploma – his mother became seriously ill, and the young man had to leave his studies. To pay for expensive treatment, Michael had to work hard at two jobs – during the day he dug wells for a shale gas company, and at night he worked as a security guard in entertainment clubs.
Young Michael Clarke Duncan (upper right)
Duncan understood that he couldn’t go on like this for a long time and that he needed to change something in his life, so he got excited about the idea of becoming an actor. Sitting at the bottom of a deep dirty hole, he dreamed of world fame and the bright lights of Hollywood, for which he earned the nickname “Mike Hollywood” among his comrades. Hardworking friends often teased Duncan: “Hey, Big Mike, Bruce Willis is calling you, he wants to offer a role!” The young man was not offended and insistently insisted that soon it would be so, and they would all pay eight dollars more for a ticket to see him on the screen.
Ironically, these words turned out to be prophetic – a few years later, Michael not only ended up on the same set with Die Hard, but also became his best friend.
Michael has always had outstanding external data and tried to maintain excellent physical shape. At one time, he even worked as a stripper under the pseudonym “Black Caesar”, which is why he was quite a prominent figure in Chicago. Once he caught the eye of the producer of one of the film companies, who suggested that he move to Los Angeles and try to break into the screen.
Michael Clarke Duncan was in excellent physical shape from an early age.
Once in Hollywood, Michael at first took up his usual business – he began to protect celebrities. He has worked with Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx and other famous people. His last client was the famous American rapper Notorious Big, who died in a gunfight in 1997. Duncan was not around that day, unfortunately he took the day off.
The death of the rapper made a shocking impression on him – Michael took this event as a sign of fate and decided to end his career as a bodyguard. With redoubled zeal, he began to hit the thresholds of acting agencies and gradually began acting in commercials and low-budget series, where, again, he was offered the roles of bodyguards and bouncers. However, Duncan understood that with his impressive dimensions (weight 140 kg with a height of 196 cm), he was unlikely to be able to claim deep character roles, so he agreed to any job.
Before becoming an actor, Michael Clarke Duncan worked as a bodyguard for the stars
In 1997, fate presented him with a generous gift – Michael was approved for the role of Bugay, one of the members of the world-saving dream team, in Michael Bay’s science fiction disaster film Armageddon. One of the main roles in the film was played by Bruce Willis, whom he dreamed of meeting all these years.
Despite a bunch of annoying blunders and technical inconsistencies, the film became a highlight in world cinema and grossed almost half a billion dollars at the box office. “Armageddon” became Michael’s ticket to the world of big cinema – he not only did not get lost against the background of Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi, but clearly adorned the tape with his presence. The good-natured big man quickly became friends with the entire film crew, he developed a particularly warm relationship with Bruce Willis.
Michael Clarke Duncan with the cast of Armageddon
In 1999, the mystical drama The Green Mile, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, was released. The main role in it was played by Tom Hanks, and Michael also got the role of prisoner John Coffey, endowed with supernatural powers.
A black giant is sentenced to death for the brutal murder of two girls. In the 1930s, 85 years before the Black Live Matters movement, and the action takes place in the southern state of Louisiana, no one doubts that it is John who is guilty. Coffey awaits execution on death row. The hero of Tom Hanks, Paul Edgecomb, also works there. Soon the warden realizes that John Coffey is not capable of harming a living being.
Bruce Willis did not star in this film masterpiece, but was well acquainted with director Frank Dorabont. Upon learning that he was looking for a dark-skinned thug for a new picture, he recommended his friend Michael. Duncan did not let Willis down and did his job so brilliantly that he was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor.
Michael Clarke Duncan at the People’s Choice Awards
In the crime comedy The Nine Yards (2000), the buddies already appeared together – Willis played the hitman Jimmy Tadeski, and Duncan – one of the members of his gang. Another collaboration between Michael and Bruce Willis is the crime thriller by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez Sin City (2005). And although the actors appeared on the screen in different short stories, they crossed paths more than once on the set and had a great time.
Michael Clarke Duncan in Sin City
It would be strange if an actor with such an outstanding appearance was ignored by the directors of science fiction and superhero films. In 2001, Michael played the role of the huge gorilla Attar in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, and a year later he successfully tried on the image of the militant Balthazar in Chuck Russell’s spectacular adventure film The Scorpion King.
Michael Clarke Duncan in The Scorpion King
In the superhero action movie Daredevil (2003), he appeared before the audience in the image of Kingpin Kingpin – for this role, the actor added fifteen kilograms to his already impressive weight and began to look even more intimidating. This did not have the best effect on his health, and the doctors strongly recommended the actor to reduce weight. Duncan went on a diet, and soon became a vegan altogether, deciding to completely abandon meat.
In addition to his outstanding appearance, the actor had a deep expressive voice that can be heard in many animation projects. He voiced the warden in Kung Fu Panda, the old grizzly bear in Brother Bear, the stingy lion in George of the Jungle 2, and of course Kilowog in Green Lantern.
Michael Clarke Duncan in Daredevil
During his short acting career, Michael managed to star in almost sixty films. One of his latest works, the sports drama The Pretender, was released in 2015, after his death. This is the story of a young boxer who had the chance to fight with the star of the ring and thereby radically change his life. Duncan played the role of his mentor – the picture became the best requiem for our hero, who managed to get out of poverty and become a famous actor.
Personal life of Michael Clarke Duncan
Despite his “intimidating” appearance, Michael was a kind, cheerful and open guy – girls liked him and never lacked attention from them. His girlfriends were such sultry beauties as Irene Marquez, Vanessa Bosele and Alicia Harrison, and in the last years of his life he met with TV presenter Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth and even managed to propose to her. The wedding was planned for early 2013, but, unfortunately, never took place.
Michael Clarke Duncan and Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth
The actor’s heart problems began a long time ago, and a busy filming schedule and heavy physical exertion aggravated his condition. On the night of July 13, 2012, Michael had a heart attack. His girlfriend managed to give him first aid before the doctors arrived, gave him an indirect heart massage and thus saved his life.
Duncan was hospitalized and stayed in the clinic for two months. For two months, Omarosa did not leave Michael’s bed, but death turned out to be stronger than her love. On September 3, the actor died – the news of his untimely death was a real shock for friends, colleagues and fans.
Grave of Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael was buried at Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, where many American celebrities are buried. At the memorial service, Tom Hanks gave an emotional speech in which he recalled funny stories from the life of Duncan, Bruce Willis was more restrained and simply said that he would always miss his “big Mike”.