The Ancestors Summon Academy Award Nominee Michael Clarke Duncan, 54, Star of “The Green Mile”
Above, an interview before the beginning of the end, with Craig Ferguson.
He died yesterday morning with his mother at his hospital bedside. His fiancée, the controversial reality star Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, who is now an ordained minister, had just left to go back to their shared domicile. When she returned, Omarosa found to her grief that he had gone rather quickly and quietly. She had saved his life in July, when he suffered a heart attack, or a myocardial infarction. Omarosa quickly administered CPR to Duncan and revived him. However, he was never the same again.
Duncan was more presence and voice in some cases than actor. He admitted in one interview that in some scenes in The Green Mile that it was all him, and not acting skills that was on the screen. Any tears were real.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing roughly 315 pounds, Duncan parlayed his considerable size into a career as a Hollywood security guard, working for the likes of Will Smith and the rapper Notorious B.I.G. His first movie role came in 1998’s “Armageddon” with Bruce Willis; Willis later helped the fledgling actor land the “Green Mile” gig.
Of his affinity for the role of the doomed John Coffey, Duncan told The Times in a 2000 interview: “I identified with John Coffey in the fact that we both had troubled times, we are both big, and by looking at us, you would be fearful of your life if you met us in a dark alley.”
He had appeared on television series including “Bones,” “Chuck” and “Two and a Half Men” and lent his voice to such animated movie and TV projects as “Family Guy” and the movie “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.”
I’ve never seen The Green Mile, because I felt that the film fed into stereotypes about black men, especially the one about Magic Negroes that seemed to proliferate in films in the Nineties. This is not to say that I was negative about Michael Clarke Duncan personally. I think that in comparison to many other stars, he seemed to be a sweet, positive guy who had paid his dues.
About a year ago, he swore off meat, became a vegan, and gave an interview to PETA talking about his change in eating habits. Unfortunately, all that previous big eating may not have been enough for an occluded and weakened heart.
His co-star Mercedes Masohn tweeted: “Today is a sad day. Michael Clark Duncan passed away this morning. Known for his moving performance in The Green Mile. RIP MCD. You’ll b missed.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, the TV series was canceled in May.
He had always wanted to be a movie star, even when he was digging ditches for the gas company in Chicago. He got his wish and then some. Rest in peace, Michael.