There are few people nearly as charismatic as Michael Clarke Duncan. It didn’t matter what movie or show he was in, he was always memorable, and you were sure to remember him in it. From his incredible turn in ‘The Green Mile’, to voice work in ‘Brother Bear’ and ‘Green Lantern’, or even his TV work like last season’s ‘The Finder’, you couldn’t help but love him. He was always an actor who I looked forward to watching, no matter what it was, because I knew I’d love him in it. Sadly now, we won’t have that chance to fall in love with these characters that Michael would create onscreen. The very talented actor has passed away at the age of 54, two months after suffering a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
Michael Clarke Duncan leaves behind an incredible legacy of work that many will remember. As I previously stated, many will remember him most for his turn as the tragic character John Coffey in ‘The Green Mile’. That role single handily shot him into super stardom, making him one of Hollywood’s hottest commodities. But that’s not the role I’ll always remember him for first and foremost. No, for me it’ll always be his turn as the villainous Marvel character Wilson Fisk, better known as the Kingpin, in 20th Century Fox’s 2003 film ‘DareDevil’, starring Ben Affleck as Marvel’s title character. The film, while not the most widely loved film, always holds a special place for me, and part of it actually has to do with Duncan as the Kingpin. The first Marvel comic book I ever fully fell in love with was DareDevil, which most people wouldn’t expect, because he’s considered one of their B list characters. But I couldn’t help but fall in love with the character of Matt Murdock, and how the comic evolved as I read through years of the comics. And while Kingpin was essentially a Spider-man villain, I always loved when he would pop into the DareDevil story lines. He really fit the feel and the gritty nature of the DareDevil stories, and was a great foil for Matt Murdock. So I was very happy to see that he was the villain used in the movie. The Kingpin was a hulking, menacing, and terrifying force, a mobster who would stop at no means to destroy those who stood in his way. So of course, you need an actor who could really bring that to life, and Michael Clarke Duncan did just that. His take on the character stands as not only one of the best comic book villains on film, but one of the best villains on film I’ve ever seen. He absolutely owned the character and the role, and made me love the character more than I had. He just oozed the presence that the character needed to work on screen, and no one else can top his performance as that character.
But that isn’t the only role that he’ll be remembered for. Many will remember his turn in the Touchstone film ‘Armageddon’, where he played Bear, one of the many men on a race against time to destroy an asteroid before it destroys the earth. He also did voice work in several Disney films and show, including voicing the character Tug in ‘Brother Bear’ and it’s sequel, Wolf in ‘Air Buddies’, Future Wade in ‘Kim Possible’, and a lion in ‘George of the Jungle 2’. He also did another villainous turn in the Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of the comic series ‘Sin City’, once again chewing up the screen in only the way he could. And those are just a few of his roles interconnected with Disney. No one will forget his turn as Frankie Figgs in ‘The Whole Nine Yards’, one of my favorite comedies, starring Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis. He was also one of the shinning spots of Tim Burton’s remake of ‘Planet of the Apes’, easily my favorite part of the whole movie. Even though he was a gentle giant, he could be the most intense and scary person in the room, or he could be a downright goofball. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, Michael Clarke Duncan was a bright spot in everything he did. He always brought so much charisma and charm to his roles, you couldn’t help but love his character, regardless if he was evil or not. We’ve lost not only one of the most brilliantly charming men in Hollywood today, but one of the nicest as well. He leaves behind an incredibly great career of work that many wish they could have been a part of. We at the Chip and Company family send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. Thank you for all your incredible work you did to entertain us, sir. You will be greatly missed.
Kingpin and DareDevil Square Off in ‘DareDevil’:
‘The Green Mile Trailer’:
‘Brother Bear’ Trailer:
Michael Clarke Duncan Speech to Tom Hanks at the AFI Tribute:
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