Michael Clarke Duncan grabbed public attention with his impressive portrayal of
convict John Coffey in the box office adaptation of Stephen King’s The Green
Mile (1999). Winning the hearts of audiences and critics, Duncan’s performance
netted a Saturn Award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and a Black
Reel Award. He also received an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild and
a MTV Movie nomination. Since then, the huge-framed actor has taken roles in
many popular films, including The Scorpion King (2002), Daredevil (2003), the
popular series “CSI: NY” (2005), as well as Sin City (2005, portrayed Manute).
Currently in demand, Duncan will be seen in several projects like the animated
Delgo (2006), the biopic Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and
the Sin City sequels, Sin City 2 (2007) and Sin City 3 (2008).
The sci-fi movie blockbuster Armageddon (1998) introduced Duncan to actor Bruce
Willis. Willis reportedly recommended Duncan to The Green Mile’s director Frank
Darabont. Duncan is also a good friend of The Rock, whom he also first met on a
The skilled actor, who once considered being a Los Angeles police officer, also
tried out for a linebacker position (mid 1980s) with the Chicago Bears.
Childhood and Family:
Michael Clarke Duncan was born on December 10, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois. At
the age of 5, his father left the family, leaving him and his sister Judith
Duncan under the guidance of mother Jean Duncan. Michael received the nickname
“Hollywood” and “Big Mike” from fellow workers.
Young Mike, who resisted drugs and alcohol, dropped out of high school and
attended Kankakee Community College. He also took a Communications program at
Alcorn State University in Mississippi, but later left the campus to take care
of his mother, who was suffering from Lupus.
Mike’s 6’ 5”, 300-pound body frame helped him find jobs, especially jobs needing
large men. He once dug ditches for a gas company, worked in security and was a
bouncer at different Chicago clubs. Moving to Los Angeles, he worked as a
bodyguard for celebrities like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx and LL
Cool J, while finding some acting work in commercials.
Michael Clarke Duncan made his first appearance on screen in the role of a drill
sergeant in a beer ad. He made his movie debut with the unaccredited role of a
craps player in the crime comedy Friday (1995) and debuted on the small screen
with the guest role of Shaka in the drama action series “Renegade” (1995).
Duncan was then seen in the series “Skwids” (1996, as a bodybuilder), the action
movie Back in Business (1997, played the huge guard), and Bulworth (1998, as a
Still in 1998, Duncan gained public attention in the Michael Bay-directed action
adventure Armageddon, as Jayotis ‘Bear’ Kurleenbear. His big breakthrough screen
role came when director Frank Darabont cast him to play John Coffey, a wrongly
accused death row inmate, in the Stephen King’s adaptation of The Green Mile
(1999). His impressive portrayal garnered him a Saturn, a Broadcast Film Critics
Association and a Black Reel for Best Supporting Actor. For the same role, he
earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a Golden Globe,
a Screen Actors Guild and a MTV Movie nomination for Best Actor.
The next year, Duncan re-teamed with Bruce Willis in the crime comedy The Whole
Nine Yards, where he had the supporting role of Franklin ‘Frankie Figs’
Figueroa. He also costarred as Colonel Attar, alongside Mark Wahlberg and Tim
Roth, in the remake of the sci-fi action Planet of the Apes (2001), before
having his TV movie debut with the starring role of Coach Griffin in the biopic
They Call Me Sirr (2001).
After a couple of videogame-character voicing jobs, the big actor provided his
voice for Coach Webb in an episode of the animated comedy series “King of the
Hill” (2002). Duncan then undertook the part of tribal leader Balthazar in The
Scorpion King (2002), which featured The Rock and Kelly Hu. He was next seen as
notorious Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin in Daredevil (2003). During 2004-2005, the
actor was involved in even more projects, including the comedy action D.E.B.S.
(2004), the made-for-TV animated sci-fi Crash Nebula (2004, as the voice of
Rockwell), an installment of the popular series “CSI: NY” (2005), the sci-fi
action The Island (2005,played Starkweather) and the adaptation of Frank
Miller’s graphic novel Sin City (2005, portrayed Manute).
Recently, Duncan lent his voice for the animated character Massive, which
appeared in three episodes of “Loonatics Unleashed” (2005, 2006). He will also
provide the voices for The Wolf in the family comedy Air Buddies (2006) and
Elder Marley in the animated Delgo (2006). In addition, Duncan is set to take
part in Blaze (2006), the biopic Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
(2006), Todd Phillips’ comedy School for Scoundrels (2006) and the family
adventure Mimzy (2007). Following his upcoming effort with Michael Bay in
Transformers (2007, as Officer Figueroa), Duncan is expected to reprise his role
of Manute in Sin City 2 (2007) and Sin City 3 (2008, both directed by Frank
Miller and Robert Rodriguez).
Black Reel: Theatrical - Best Supporting Actor, The Green Mile, 2000
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actor, The Green
Saturn: Best Supporting Actor, The Green Mile, 2000
ShoWest: Male Star of Tomorrow, 2000