Michael Clarke Duncan, the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama “The Green Mile,” died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover.
Duncan began his Hollywood employment history as a celebrity bodyguard in the mid-1990s. He received his first big acting break playing a member of the drilling team sent into space to blow up an asteroid heading to Earth in the big-budget 1998 movie “Armageddon,” starring Bruce Willis.
But it was “The Green Mile,” starring Tom Hanks as a death row prison guard in a Louisiana penitentiary during the Depression, that thrust the 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound Duncan into the limelight. He portrayed John Coffey, a gentle giant with supernatural powers who has been sentenced to death for the murder of two young white girls.
Duncan credited acting coach Larry Moss with teaching him “how to dig within myself” for the heavily emotional crying scenes in the movie.
“I’m an emotional person, a very emotional person,” Duncan told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. “All those tears you see in the movie were mine.”
In 2002, two years after the Academy Awards ceremony, Duncan told the Orange County Register:
“Realistically, I didn’t think I would win the Oscar, but the nomination was a personal validation for me. It proved to me that I was a good actor. More important, it showed other people that I was a serious actor.”
Duncan later appeared in films such as “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000), “Planet of the Apes” (2001), “The Scorpion King” (2002) and “The Island” (2005). He also did voice work in films and television, including “Brother Bear” (2003) and “Kung Fu Panda” (2008).
(source:the LA Times)
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