One of Hollywood's
"Good Guys"



Michael Clarke Duncan


Born: Michael Clarke Duncan; December 10, 1957; Chicago, Illinois
Spouse/Dating: Single
Family: Mother, Jean, divorced, house cleaner; Sister, older
Education: Alcorn State University, Mississippi, majored in communications (left without a degree)
Nickname: "Hollywood Mike"
Height: 6' 5" 300-320 lbs



Awards Include:
>2001: Nominated, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Supporting Actor, Comedy/Romance for: Whole Nine Yards, The (2000)
>2000: Nominated, Oscar, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Won, Saturn Award, Best Supporting Actor for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2001: Nominated, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Supporting Actor, Drama for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Won, BFCA Award, Best Supporting Actor for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, CFCA Award, Best Supporting Actor for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, CFCA Award, Most Promising Actor for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, Image Award, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, MTV Movie Award, Breakthrough Male Performance for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, OFCS Award, Best Supporting Actor for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, SAG Award, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Nominated, SAG Award, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for: Green Mile, The (1999)
>2000: Won, ShoWest Award, Male Star of Tomorrow


Film/Acting Credits Include:
>2001: Sirr (TV) .... Coach Griffin
>2001: Planet of the Apes .... Attar
>2001: Cats & Dogs .... Sam (voice)
>2001: See Spot Run .... Murdoch
>2000: Soldier of Fortune (voice) .... Hawk
>2000: Wrestlemania 2000 .... Himself
>2000: Whole Nine Yards, The .... Frankie Figs
>1999: Underground Comedy Movie, The .... Gay Virgin
>1999: Green Mile, The .... John Coffey
>1999: Breakfast of Champions .... Eli
>1998: Night at the Roxbury, A .... Roxbury Bouncer
>1998: Armageddon .... Jayotis 'Bear' Kurleenbear
>1998: Bulworth .... Bouncer
>1998: Players Club, The .... Bodyguard
>1998: Caught Up .... BB
>1997: Back in Business .... Huge Guard
>1995: Friday (uncredited) .... Craps Player
>1987: "Bold and the Beautiful, The" (TV Series) .... Slash


Profile:

   Don't call this man Michael Duncan. It's Michael "Clarke" Duncan.
   "When I was a teenager back in Chicago," Duncan explained, "two cops stopped me on the street and asked me if I was Michael Duncan. I said I was, then they told me I was under arrest. They showed me this sheet that had all the things Michael Duncan had done on it. I told them that wasn't me, but they didn't buy it. They put the cuffs on me, took me down to the station, and were going to book me. Then one of them asked me if I had a middle name. I said 'Clarke,' and I was able to get my mother to come down with my identification. They were still going to book me, until a female sergeant came out and was able to determine that I wasn't their guy. I almost went to jail. Since then, there is no more 'Michael Duncan'."
   Former bouncer and bodyguard to celebrities likeWill Smith, Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence, Duncan is known these days to reporters and others around Hollywood as a genuinely polite, articulate man who is really decent company to be around. Duncan believes it has a lot to do with how he was brought up.
   Raised by his single mother on Chicago's South Side, Michael grew up listening to and minding his mom. No drugs or alcohol, or injury-ladened

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Michael Clarke Duncan (cont.)

sports.Instead, he was expected to concentrate on school. He once wanted to play football, but his mother wouldn't let him, fearing he would hurt himself. Instead, Mom recommended basketball.
   "I love basketball, I played in college. My mom wouldn't let me play football," he confirms his mother's edict against violent sports.
   Duncan's eyes redden with proud tears when he talks about his mom. His father left the family when he was just five. To provide for her two children, his mother worked long 18-hour days cleaning houses. But from the very beginning she always made time to work with young Michael and get him to think like an actor.
   "When we were reading those See-Jane-run books, I could not read it like anybody else. My mother was teaching me how to read with feeling. So, I'm in there and instead of saying 'See ... Jane ... run,' I had to say, 'SEE Jane RUN. WHY does Jane RUN?'
   "I said to my mama, 'Why can't I read like everybody else?' And she said, 'Because you're not going to be like everybody else.'
   Duncan can't hold back his tears when he explains that his mother now suffers from a debilitating case of lupus. He still remembers that it was his mother who would take him aside as a boy and tell him, "You're going be a big star when you grow up."
   But as a boy, Duncan never paid much attention to his mom's prediction. After high school he attented college at Alcorn State University in Mississippi where he majored in communications, but he didn't take things too seriously back then and he left school without a degree. Back in Chicago, he landed a job digging ditches for Peoples Gas Company and found work at night moonlighting as a bouncer. As time went by, he remembered what his mother had said and he began to think seriously about a career as an actor. He would go to movies and watch television and began to tell everyone who would listen, "I can do that. I can act." His coworkers at the gas company got a big laugh out of it and teased him about his fanciful dream, even nicknaming him "Hollywood Mike."
   "I'd be digging a ditch and they'd say, 'Hey man, Bruce Willis wants to talk to you about a movie.' And they'd just crack up laughing," he recalls. "When they'd start making fun of me, I'd tell them I'd have the last laugh because one day it would cost them $7.50 to see my mug"
   As life would have it, the joke would turn to truth and one day be on them.
   Duncan did tried his hand at acting when Rapper Ice Cube shot his movie "Friday" in Chicago and cast Duncan in a small role. "I played a gambler in one scene. I didn't have any lines and I knew nothing about being on camera. I actually grinned and waved. It was so embarrassing."
   He eventually landed with a touring play called "Beauty Shop, Part II." "We toured for about a year," he remembers, "and ended up in L.A. The producer told us the play was going to shut down."
   The producer offered to buy everyone a ticket back to their homes, but Duncan declined. "I figured I was in Hollywood and what was I going to do? Go back to Chicago and then move back out to Hollywood anyway? So I stayed. It was rough for a while, but I persevered. I hustled. I did security, I did some bodyguard work."
   His early time in Hollywood was, indeed, tough. At one time he was down to his last $20 and living in a roach-infested Hollywood motel.
   "I was eating Chicken McNuggets once a day, because I was trying to let that $20 stretch," he says. "I knew I was going crazy because I'd lay down on the bed, a little shabby bed with a broken up TV that got maybe one or two channels, and these big cockroaches would come out late at night and I wouldn't try to kill them because they were the only friends I had."
   Duncan says it was at this low point, when he was ready to quit, that called his mother in Chicago for the money to buy a ticket back home.
   "I said, 'Mama, it's not working here in L.A. The ground moves, I'm broke, I'm hungry, I need to leave.' My mother was always the type of person who would spoil me, and I was thinking she'd say, 'C'mon home, baby.'" But she said, 'You're out there. Pull up your bootstraps, get tough. If you come back to Chicago, you probably won't get this opportunity again. You will never know for the rest of your life if you could have made it or not. I'll talk to you later.' And she hung up. I just stood there with tears in my eyes."
   As it turns out Mama was right, just like she'd always been.
   The very next week, Duncan got a security job on the Hollywood lots for $10 an hour. "And the rest just began to fall into place."
   He credits his mother for the tenacity to hang on to his dream. "Keep trying your best. That's what my mother instilled in me," he says.
   She also gave him a kind, soft heart. "My mother's the emotional one," he says. "I think she's been crying ever since I made it to Hollywood. She's been the greatest inspiration in my career. She's the one."
   Duncan started landing a few commercials and walk-on roles and was also cast in the daytime soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful." Next came small roles in "Bulworth," "The Players Club" and "A Night at the Roxbury," but it was with his breakout performance as Jayotis Bear Kurleenbear opposite Bruce Willis in the box-office smash "Armageddon" that finally got him significant Hollywood notice.

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Michael Clarke Duncan
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   "It was my first real role. I wasn't just playing a bouncer or a thug in one little scene. I was so proud."
   He actually got the chance to return to Chicago to help promote the movie.
   "My old boss from the power company crew came up to me. He told me everyone was so very proud of me and then he hugged me. I don't cry very easily, but I sure turned on the waterworks."
   Not everyone in Chicago was impressed with Duncan's performance, however. His mother was a little more than upset over one scene. "My mama wanted to know why I had to be in a hospital bed pulling my underwear down. She told me I wasn't allowed to bare my butt for a camera ever again."
   During the filming of Armageddon, Willis and Duncan became best friends.
   When Willis heard they were casting for "The Green Mile" he told Duncan, "You have to audition for that movie as soon as we're done with this film."
   "Bruce Willis was the one," Duncan recalls. "He was the one that told me about the role. When we were doing 'Armageddon' in Florida, he told me; 'I’ve got the perfect role for you that will totally change your acting career.' He told me to go buy 'The Green Mile' and read it, and we’d talk about it the next day. After I bought it and started reading it, he told me, 'Michael, I’m gonna do you a favor. I’m gonna call Frank Darabont, the director, when we get back to L.A.' He said, 'I know Frank really well. I’m going to tell him to give you an audition, because I know you are Frank Coffey.'"
   When they got back to L.A., Willis was good to his word. He called director Frank Darabont and said, "I found John Coffey."
   "He called Frank, Frank called me, and then called me back two more times. I had a screen audition, and then I got the role."
   When talking about how much help his friend was in getting him the role, Duncan smiles. "If I talk too much about how much help Bruce was, he might just call and demand his 15% agent fee."
   Darabont said that casting an actor with Duncan's limited experience was a gamble, but it certainly paid off.
   "I should thank God or somebody for inventing Michael Clarke Duncan," Darabont said, "because he not only rose to the occasion, he exceeded my hopes. It was uncanny. The character of Coffey had to be perfection. If that role wasn't perfection, if it's wasn't played to perfection by an actor who could be vulnerable and expose his heart, the movie fails."
   Duncan recalls starting on the film with a grin. "When I first took the role, Frank came to me and said ' Michael, we want you to put on 20, 30 pounds'. I said ' you want me to do what?!' But then I thought about it and said: 'let me get this right: I'm gonna work with Tom Hanks, you're gonna feed me, and I don't have to work out?' I got a good deal!"
   But it wasn't all easy. The well-spoken former communications major had a dialect problem. He came off sounding too good for an uneducated black man of 1935 Louisana. "It was very tough to tackle" he recalled. "Luckily, I had a great dialect coach named Jessica who went over the lines with me most of the time. She stopped me all the time, warning me that I'm sounding too intelligent."
   Despite the critical acclaim for his performance in "The Grren Mile," and his continued excellence in films today, Duncan still worries over the inexperience of his earlier days, like on "The Bold And Beautiful," and what people might say looking back on those less than acclaimed performances. He said multi-Oscar winner and Green Mile co-star Tom Hanks helped him put it all into perspective. "Tom told me, 'Don't feel bad. I did Bosom Buddies.'"
   These days, the only problem Duncan still worries over is being mistaken for Ving Rhames. "The first thing I do is let people know I’m not Ving Rhames. If I can get them to know I'm Michael Clarke Duncan and not Ving Rhames, that will be enough for me."
   Recently, the first Michael Clarke Duncan web site went up and Duncan is amazed by all the email. "People were on it that I hadn’t heard from in years. Especially old girl friends. 'I know we didn’t make it years ago,' they'd say, 'but I remember that smile of yours….'
   "Yeah, I had that same smile when I was broke, too," he likes to remind them.
   Among Duncan's personal interests these days is a love for WWF wrestling. "Two of my best friends are The Rock and Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry. We talk every other day. I’m a huge WWF fan," he admits.
   When it comes to advice, Duncan is free with it and it comes from his soul.
   "If you feel something in your heart," he says, "and you really, truly believe in it, there is nothing on Earth that should make you quit. And I mean nothing. I mean family, friends, people in general -- if you really believe it."
   "I tell kids, 'Believe in something. Don't let people tell you, 'Oh man, you can't be a writer, you can't be a doctor or lawyer.' Who are they to tell you what you can do with your life? Why are you going to listen to somebody else to tell you what you can do?"
   "People told me, 'Man, you ain't never going to be an actor.' But if you truly, honestly believe, please don't quit. If I had, I'd be back in Chicago in them ditches."