It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to one of Hollywood's favorite character actors - Michael Clarke Duncan - who passed away today at the too-soon age of 54 from a heart attack. While no one would ever confuse Michael as a classically trained thespian, one cannot argue that his presence on a screen was anything less than commanding. With his booming voice and infectious beaming smile perched upon the body of a comic book super-hero Michael would always leave an impression.
But he wasn't all braun and no brains. Michael could emote as well. Given the right material he could make you laugh or he could make you cry. How many other actors can we really say that about? Here's a quick look back at Michael's all too brief career as we run down his five best performances. Honorable mentions go out to: Sin City (2005); Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) & his voice-work for Kung Fu Panda (2008)
5. The Kingpin in Daredevil (2003)
Yeah, okay, the movie was not the best. But the one thing they got right was casting Michael as The Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Somebody had to bring some personality to that abomination.
4. The Bouncer in "Married ...with Children" season 10 ep. 7 - 'Flight of the Bumblebee' (1995)
No way Bud is getting past Michael to get a piece of King Kong Bundy in the classic episode of "Married." It wasn't happening. This was one of Michael's first performances with a speaking part, and it set the stage for a career sprinkled with roles that included parts as bodyguards, boxers and bouncers.
3. Lucius Washington in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby(2006)
"Guys! No tires! We're not a pit crew anymore, we're a car wash team."
2. Bear in Armageddon (1998)
When Bruce Willis needed help saving the world from an asteroid the size of Texas, Michael was on the team with him. Starring as Bear, Michael's hulking figure brought a lot of well-timed comic relief - not something hulking figures are typically asked to bring to an action-adventure type of movie. Need an example? Remember what happens if Watts kicks Bear in the balls on the asteroid? Bear's answer: "I float away."
1. John Coffey in The Green Mile (1999)
The penultimate performance of Michael came in Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King serial of the same name. Starring opposite Tom Hanks, Michael turned in an epic portrayal of the supernaturally inclined but tragically doomed John Coffey. So memorable was Michael's performance in The Green Mile that even Oscar came knocking with a best supporting actor nomination.
R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan.
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