In the wake of Michael Clarke Duncan’s tragic passing, the obituaries and tributes have labeled him as the “Green Mile” actor. While we won’t deny that Duncan’s role as the gifted death row inmate is not only his most recognized performance but also his greatest, many of the actor’s smaller roles have gone unappreciated.
Here is our look at some of Michael Clarke Duncan’s other stand-out performances.
For Robert Rodriguez to make as literal an adaptation of Frank Miller’s series of noir comics as he set out to, Duncan was almost required for the role of Manute, the massive one-eyed bodyguard and mob enforcer. The actor left behind all of the humor and good-nature of his previous roles for one delightfully big bad.
“Planet of the Apes”
As hard as it may be to recommend any part of Tim Burton’s remake of the sci-fi classic, Duncan’s work, along with the performance by Tim Roth, remains one of the few high points of an otherwise weak film. With the help of heavy prosthetics, used to transform the actor into a highly evolved gorilla, Duncan took on his animalistic character without losing the human element underneath the thick layer of latex.
“The Slammin’ Salmon”
“You have to dominate the swordfish. Only then can you sauté it.” These are the wise words of “Slammin'” Cleon Salmon, the former boxing champ and restaurant owner at the center of Broken Lizard’s 2009 comedy, “The Slammin’ Salmon.” When he finds himself $20,000 in debt to the Yakuza, Salmon tasks his wait staff with selling enough food to pay it off.
“Kung Fu Panda”
As recognized as he was for his stature, Duncan’s booming voice may have been just as notable, giving him many opportunities to work as a voice actor in animated films. His most notable work was as a part of the star-studded ensemble of “Kung Fu Panda.” In the film, Duncan played a prison guard rhinoceros named Commander Vachir.
A year before his breakout role as John Coffey, Duncan suited up and headed into space as part of a drilling team sent to save the world in Michael Bay’s “Armageddon.” His reward for the mission: a summer spent living in the White House. As Bear, Duncan brought his same big, loveable spirit to the blockbuster, which also starred Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi.
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