If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Wow! This is simply unbelievable. Another great character actor for the century has been taken from us and into the great beyond. What was not to love about the great Michael Clarke Duncan? Everybody loved this man. His physical presence was overwhelming, his voice could penetrate the sound barrier and he had one of the biggest grins in Hollywood along with one of the heartiest laughs.
Looking over his life story and how he broke into Hollywood, it's quite interesting to see how his life seemed to reflect his look and personality. He grew up in a single-parent home with his mother and sister in Chicago after his father left and had always wanted to be an actor. Although he had to drop out of the Communications program at Alcorn State, he still found other ways to continue on his path toward living his dream. He always seemed like the kind of guy who genuinely cared about his family and even though he was a massive man, it always seemed like he had a real sensitive side to him. That's probably why he always seemed like Hollywood's biggest gentle giant in both size and spirit. Even though he had to drop out to help his ill mother, that didn't stop him from working a variety of jobs where his physique made him very useful including digging ditches, bouncing various nightclubs in Chicago and later being the bodyguard of many celebrities including Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J and The Notorious B.I.G. Even though he would later quit the job after Biggie Smalls got shot, he wouldn't have any problem getting to work on a number of big Hollywood films including supporting roles in Bulworth and Armageddon. Now say what you will about Armageddon, nobody can deny that he was one of the very best parts of it. But that's not the reason we're all here. It's all because he was able to make audiences cry for his Oscar-nominated portrayal of John Coffey, a convicted death row inmate who raped and murdered two young girls, in The Green Mile. That alone solidified him as one of the very best new actors in Hollywood and while he never hit such a high point, he was still able to leave behind a noteworthy legacy as one of Hollywood's finest character actors.
Even though he had his fair share of terrible movies, he was still able to make them tolerable which was the ultimate power of Michael Clarke Duncan. He made any movie tolerable simply because he was always on top form and loved what he was doing all the time. He might have hit a real high point early in his career but thankfully he was able to sustain his level of charisma and screen presence in order to create a legacy that is nothing short of impressive. You could pick out any number of Hollywood films that he was in in the last fifteen years and you could not find a movie where he faltered. The movie itself might have faltered altogether but he was never ever slumming it. Whether it was Cats & Dogs, Planet of the Apes, The Scorpion King, Daredevil, Sin City, The Producers, Talladega Nights, School for Scoundrels, God of War II or even his few episodes on Two and a Half Men, he was always that larger than life guy who dominated the screen. He could play anything from a Greek Titan to an over-concerned dad ready to kick Charlie Sheen's ass for an inappropriate ring tone on Jake's phone (not to mention he was an ex-NFL star). He played anything from the guy who carried the entire world on his shoulders to a tough guy who loved apple-tinis and had Mr. Roundtree for his manhood's nickname. When it comes to picking my own personal favorite roles that he's done, it'll be tough because there's so many. The first movie that I probably remember him in was Daredevil and it doesn't matter that he isn't the same nationality as the comic book Kingpin, he embodied that character so well! He made that villain so awesome and so pimp that that movie is still a fun one to watch just for his performance in it! In terms of his work in comedy, my favorite movie role was in Talladega Nights and my favorite TV role would have to be his brief stint on Two and a Half Men where he was just hilarious in (he stole the show)! However, my absolute favorite role of his has to be Atlas in the God of War II video game. When I think of MCD, I always think of the mighty Titan who carried the world on his shoulders. His most defining feature was his voice and with that character, he might have had only five minutes of screen time but he made one hell of an impression with just his voice.
One could go on and on about the greatness that was Michael Clarke Duncan but why would I continue to waste everyone's time? Everyone knows that he was a great actor and from what I have heard, he was the definitive of a gentle giant. He always seemed to be a kind-hearted soul who genuinely cared about people and would never exude any kind of negative energy in front of anybody publicly. He also appeared to be a person who did what he loved and never complained about anything simply because he believed that he was in the right place all the time being an actor. He could've naturally been a body-builder or some other profession requiring his physique but instead he devoted his passion to acting and created some of the most memorable characters in modern film memory. He was sculpted out of pure muscle, he carried a voice that was iconic, he had a grin that could make anyone happy even on their saddest day and he had a heart that was larger than anyone else's in Hollywood. That's the key term to describe Michael: larger than life. He was the almighty stepfather for us at the movies and everyone will have their own story to share about him. So here's to the great man who pursued his dream, made it happen, had the time of his life doing it and has left us a gallery of films to remember him by. I guess his heart was just too big to carry for such a harsh world.
R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan (December 10th, 1957 - September 3rd, 2012)