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Michael Clarke Duncan Actor

Michael Clarke Duncan, co-star of the "D.E.B.S." Movie!

Standing 6'5" and weighing over 300 pounds, African American actor Michael Clarke Duncan inarguably possesses one of Hollywood's more unforgettable figures. A former bodyguard and bouncer, Duncan first gained attention when he appeared as one of a group of oil drillers sent to stop an asteroid from annihilating the Earth in the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon. A year later, Duncan's career got another significant boost when the actor earned lavish critical plaudits for his portrayal of a wrongfully convicted death row inmate in The Green Mile. Born in Chicago on December 10, 1957, Duncan was raised on the city's south side by his single mother. A serious student, Duncan decided that he wanted to play football in high school; after his mother refused to let him, fearing he would get hurt, he developed an interest in acting instead. Following his graduation from high school, the aspiring actor studied communications at Mississippi's Alcorn State University. His studies were cut short when he returned to Chicago to attend to his mother, who had fallen ill. He subsequently found work digging ditches with the Peoples Gas Company and moonlighted as a club bouncer. His work led to a chance encounter with a stage producer who hired him as a security guard for a traveling theatre company, which eventually brought Duncan to Hollywood.

Upon his arrival in L.A., Duncan, who was hovering dangerously close to bankruptcy, secured further work as a security guard and found his first agent. He got his professional start on television, appearing in commercials, sitcoms, and on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. He started his film career playing -- surprisingly enough -- bouncers in such films as The Players Club and Bulworth (both 1998), finally getting his big break -- and the first role that didn't require him to boot people out of clubs -- in Armageddon.

Thanks to the great commercial success of Armageddon, Duncan was able to find subsequent employment in a number of productions, most notably The Green Mile. He earned overwhelmingly strong reviews for his portrayal of doomed, saintly John Coffey, a man whose conviction for a brutal double murder seems at odds with his exceedingly gentle, almost child-like demeanor. Duncan garnered Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for his work in the film. He next switched genre gears, re-teaming with Armageddon co-star Bruce Willis to star in the comedy The Whole Nine Yards, which cast him a brutish thug who terrorizes mild-mannered dentist Matthew Perry. Once again utilizing his massive girth to maximum effect in the following year's The Planet of the Apes Duncan followed up the big budget remake with the made-for-television They Call Me Sirr before once again flexing formidably, this time opposite The Rock, in The Scorpion King. Later turning up as the villainous Kingpin in the /comic book superhero film Daredevil (2003), Duncan would also loan his voice to the same character in Spider-Man: The Animated Series later that same year.

Michael Clarke Duncan stars in "Sin City''

Michael Clarke Duncan, currently in theaters as a voice in "Racing Stripes," is due next in "Sin City," opening April 1. "I play Manute, the bodyguard to this big gigantic kingpin, and I take care of all his dirty work," the actor said. "But what was fun was it was done all on green screen, which I'd never done a whole movie on green screen. We didn't go anywhere. One place every day." Duncan's co-stars include Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Benicio del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett. "We have so many good actors and actresses in it, I was just happy to be a part of that ensemble," Duncan said. ...

Daredevil: An Interview with Michael Clarke Duncan

Not many folks have made a BIG entrance in Hollywood like Michael Clarke Duncan. At 6’4 he stands a giant amongst his peers. When he first came on to the scene opposite Tom Hanks in “The Green Mile”, who knew he would garner an Oscar nomination for his performance. Although he didn’t win, he managed to parlay that good spirit to subsequent roles in “Armageddon”, “The Whole Nine Yards” and “Planet of the Apes”. Last year he co-starred with the Rock in “The Scorpion King” as his nemesis. Playing the evil one has come in hand as he will play that sort of role again in his latest film opposite Ben Affleck in “Daredevil”. Duncan stars as Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, a massively muscled underworld figure. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Michael Clarke Duncan talks about the character that most comic book fans know is portrayed by a white man.

WM: Many comic book fans know that Kingpin is portrayed by a 6’7 430 pound white guy. When the casting of Kingpin came about, how were you brought in the picture? Did you auditioned for the part or were you called?

MCD: They called me and offered me the role. The director called me and wanted to have lunch. I thought he was going to offer me something else, maybe a smaller role. When he said he wanted me to play Kingpin, I look at him and said “You know the guy is white, right?” He said yes and still thought I was the best actor for the job and the people at Fox thought I was the best actor for the job. After he told me that, I didn’t have a problem playing the role.

WM: Were you a fan of the character?

MCD: Oh yeah, I grew up with the Daredevil comic book, Spiderman, Superman, and Batman. I grew up with most of those DC and Marvel comic books when I was younger. In fact, Kingpin was one of my favorite characters.

WM: In the film as well as the posters we see planted all over the country, you are wearing a white double-breasted suit. Had you worn one before and did it comfortable?

MCD: I don’t have too many white suits, maybe cream, but no white suits. They made the suit feel right for me. It was the first time on a set where the clothes were Taylor-made.

WM: If you were the best actor for the part, did you do any physical training for the part?

MCD: I had to gain weight. Once again, they wanted me to be a little bit thicker. The height wasn’t a problem but they wanted me to be more muscular. So I started doing my power lifting regiment when I need to gain weight to build my muscles up. So I got to 335 almost 340 pounds and I lifted everyday, and that gave me a broader swollen look on camera.

WM: How challenging was the fight scene with Ben Affleck as Daredevil?

MCD: Kingpin knows about Daredevil, and Daredevil is coming for him. Kingpin sends all his bodyguards home, tells everyone to clear the building, and the lights start going out on each floor of this tall skyscraper building. When the fight scene starts, I’m pretty much whipping his butt, but had to let him get his cuts in, because he couldn’t look that bad.

WM: Did you do some of your stunts?

MCD: I did all of my stunts. I did every single one. There was a big size difference between my stunt double and me, and you would be able to notice on camera. They told me I had to do everything and I was cool with that.

WM: In the film, there’s a scene where Kingpin drinks and smokes, which something you don’t do. Was that a difficult scene to shoot?

MCD: It was definitely challenging. I talked to Mark Steven Johnson (the director) about it and I was trying to get around it at first. I was trying to do other things that the Kingpin character would do other than smoke a cigar. Once I started rereading the comic book, the character always smokes a cigar so it was sort of hard to get around it. If you are going to play a character, then you have stay true to that character. So what they did was give me these herbal cigars which didn’t have any nicotine in it. All I did was puff on them and blow the smoke out. It looked cool.

WM: As a black actor, it’s a challenge getting roles. Is it a problem for you when you get offered roles more for your physical appearance as opposed to your acting ability?

MCD: That’s part of it. I understand that most of the time when I get offered a role, it’s mostly because of my physical appearance but hopefully most of the other times, it’s like this film, in that I was considered the actor for the role. I take it in stride. If they want me for my physical or acting ability, that’s cool with me. I just love to work.

WM: What sort of roles do you prefer to do?

MCD: I like drama and comedy. I like comedy a lot. I have yet to do a romantic film or romantic comedy that I can get into. I think that would funny, and something the fans would enjoy as well.

WM: What’s the best film of 2002 that you saw?

MCD: I haven’t seen a lot of film, but I did like Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I also liked the Bourne Identity and The Transporter. I like action films and I dug the Transporter. So many action films are coming out this summer, so it will very interesting to see who lands on top.

WM: What’s next for you?

MCD: Right now, I’m reading scripts. I have a movie coming out with Val Kilmer and it’s called “George and the Dragon.” It will be released very soon and I also have a fight scene in that film with Val Kilmer. Patrick Swayze is in the film as well. It was pretty interesting. That’s a comedy and it was very funny, so hopefully the fans will get a kick out of that also.

WM: Thanks for talking with me and blackfilm.com

MCD: Thanks very much.

Michael Clarke Duncan's new movie ''The Island''

A few months after appearing in "Sin City" in April, Michael Clarke Duncan will return to the big screen July 22 in another highly anticipated action movie, "The Island," with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. " 'The Island' is like you would have a double on this island, so let's say you had heart failure, we go take the heart out of your double, but your double doesn't know that he has you," Duncan explained. "They think they're really living people, which they are. So when my football player [character] gets hurt, they come and get the organs out of my double to give to me." Michael Bay ("Bad Boys," "Pearl Harbor") is directing, and Duncan said he's pulling out memorable performances from the cast. "He really made me go to some places I really didn't want to go," Duncan said. "He worked my butt." ...

'3' gets cable encore; ABC goes a 'Mile'

If you missed your chances in December to see "3," the recent made-for-cable movie about the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, on TV and don't want to spring for the two-disc DVD collector's edition ($34.99 list from Disney/Buena Vista), you're in luck. The telefilm starring Barry Pepper as "the Intimidator" will be televised again at 9 tonight on ESNP2.

Earnhardt, the self-promoted "bad boy" of NASCAR racing, died in 2001 after crashing his stock car on the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500. In his storied career, Earnhardt took 76 checkered flags and won seven Winston Cup titles. Before the movie debuted, Pepper told me how he found out "pretty quick" that he had his work cut out for him on this movie. Playing "an American legend" always puts an actor on "very thin ice," he said.

It's the kind of job he's had before. Pepper played baseball figure Roger Maris in the well-received ESPN movie "61*," which was televised in 2001. Both Maris and Earnhardt have "extraordinary fan bases," Pepper said, "so you knew that you were dealing with a very fervent opinion of who the man was. And so if you stray too far from that or if you don't do your homework ... then you are going to hear about it."

Incidentally, another movie in which Pepper played a role is on the tube tonight. The offering at 7 p.m. on ABC (WEAR-TV3) is "The Green Mile," a 1999 flick adapted from a Stephen King best-seller.

"The Green Mile" is a death-row fantasy about a wrongly convicted man who touches the lives of all those around him -- mostly for the better, but in a couple of deserving cases for the worse. Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan star.

The story is set in the 1930s and includes the kind of supernatural elements that we've come to expect from King's writings. If the prison fantasy has a bit of the feel of "The Shawshank Redemption," it's because this story was adapted for the screen by Frank Darabont, the acclaimed writer-director of that 1994 movie -- also an adaptation of a work by King.

Michael Clarke Duncan: 'The Island'

Action director Michael Bay says he's so proud of his new sci-fi film, "The Island," that he invited selected press to a set visit on his 41st birthday -- Thursday, Feb. 17. "This one's a Mama shoot," says Bay, surrounded by helium balloons and with star Ewan McGregor at his side. "The biggest challenge is to just get it done on time."

The moody, sexy, sci-fi thriller is a bit of a departure for the action director known for "Pearl Harbor" and the "Bad Boys" movies, and the idea for him to helm the project came from Steven Spielberg. The project was greenlit in October as a co-production of DreamWorks and Warner Bros., and this is the 75th day of shooting in an 84-day schedule for a film that's expected to be released on Friday, July 22.

Ironically, "Island" will come out just a month after the release of Spielberg's sci-fi epic "The War of the Worlds." It's also a summer when McGregor reprises his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

"We don't have any say about the release dates," Bay says. "Summer movies eat each other up, but I know summer money is always good." Bay says this film is much more dramatic, sexy and character-driven than anything he's ever done. "It's an intense human drama."

McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play clones who don't know that they are being harvested in their insular community as "spare parts" for wealthy people. Spielberg gave Bay the suggestion to set the story only about 25 years in the future, rather than the 80 years in the original script.

"It was his idea to make it sooner, and that's a lot more scary," Bay tells Zap2it.com. "It gives the positive and negative sides about cloning and the science of it. And no, I wouldn't want to be cloned -- that would be a disaster."

The massive set inside a former airplane hangar is supposed to depict a 75-level complex that's under Death Valley. The clones are told that the outside world was contaminated by a bio-virus, but there is an uncontaminated utopia dubbed "The Island" where lucky lottery winners get to go when their number is drawn. The Island doesn't really exist, and it's not somewhere you want to go, Bay explains.

The long gray concrete corridors and glass elevators are filled with workers in white jumpsuits. In a scene being filmed Thursday, McGregor rides in an elevator, while his friend (Michael Clarke Duncan) is beaming a video message to everyone in the complex about how excited he is that he's been selected to go to the Island.

During a break in filming McGregor views a scene Bay just completed where he confronts his real self. Bay pops in the DVD a bit proudly as the press, and the actor, view the monitor. After a dramatic shoot-out, the police are confused about which is the clone, and which is the real person. McGregor's "real" self has a Scottish accent, much like his own, but his clone character Lincoln Six-Echo has an American one.

The estimated $100-million-plus production is one of the fastest turn-arounds in such a big budget action film and producer Ian Bryce says, "Michael is proud of what he's doing, and people know about it, there is a great awareness, so that's why he's letting people see some it."

The movie has jumped from Palm Springs to Death Valley to Detroit and Downey, with sometimes only a one-day set-up. Special effects supervisor Eric Brevig says, "We're doing a lot of crashes and stunts for real and not depending on CGI [computer generated images] as much. Can we make it? If we're not in the theaters in July then you know we didn't make it."

And Bay, who still seems to have high energy, admits, "You think every movie you're going to do is going to flop, you have that fear, but that makes you try to do something better, different."

Ringside at The Theatre : An Interview with Michael Clarke Duncan

It’s not the first time we have seen a wrestler attempt to transfer his skills from the wrestling ring to the silver screen. However, The Rock provides for an entertaining creation and development of “The Scorpion King.” The Rock definitely competes within the category of being labeled an action-star, but I predict that his shinning light will only get brighter after this performance. Blackfilm.com sat with co-star Michael Clarke Duncan to discuss the film and this new direction for The Rock.

AH: So will we ever see you in the ring?

MCD: Me? If I do something, it won’t be anything like The Rock. I love wrestling but I think if you go into wrestling, it’s possible that people won’t take your movies seriously…and I want people to always take my movies and what I do seriously.

AH: Do you think people will take The Rock Seriously?

MCD: Oh yeah! Because of his fan base, anything that he is in - - he has a tremendous following from the WWF that will not stop. He could take years off from wrestling and still have a bigger fan base than most lead actors out in Hollywood simply because of who he is and his charisma. He’s got this larger than life attitude when you see him on screen, plus, he has the coolest lines!

AH: How have things been since The Green Mile? First you were a serious actor and now you are an action star. Tell us more about the transition.

MCD: You know it’s all like playing to me. It’s like having all the toys you’ve ever wanted. We’re just playing every day. You look on TV and you see The Rock, but he’s a friend of mine, so he is like one of your boys! So when I see him doing something funny, its like when you see on of your boys trying to act – you say, “Man, you ain’t that cool!” Rock called me and asked me to do this movie. I never read the scrip. I said, “let’s do it.” We’re having so much fun that you just don’t see anything wrong with it and you just can’t believe that you’re getting paid to do all this.

AH: How did you first meet The Rock?

MCD: In Anaheim - I had already done Armageddon. I went to a match. I always go to the matches. I bought my own ticket, went, sat at ring side and he [The Rock] is my favorite wrestler. At the end of the match I went across the street to a restaurant to eat. He walks in with a couple of guys. He had his baseball cap pulled down. I was like, “ah man, what can I say? I have to think of something to say to The Rock!” I figured, don’t bug him, he just got finished wrestling, he doesn’t want to be bothered with people. Then, I said, “forget that – I am going over there.” I go over and say, “Listen, hey Mr. Rock, I’m sorry, uh, I’m Michael Clarke Duncan. “ he said, “who?” I repeated, “Michael Clarke Duncan, I worked in Armageddon.” He looked again, and said, “oh yeah, I like you.” We sat down, exchanged numbers, and that was it.

AH: You have more film experience than The Rock Did you have any acting advice for him?

MCD: You know he actually came to me for advice. But I told him one piece of information that changed his whole way of acting. I told him to go see Larry Moss. He was my acting coach for The Green Mile. I told him if he was having a problem with anything, go see Larry Moss first and he would understand exactly what I would be trying to tell him when I answered a question. I didn’t have to help him out too much. He’s got this acting thing down.

AH: Are you still riding the high from being known as “Academy award-nominated Michael Clarke Duncan?”

MCD: Yeah. I don’t think that will ever leave me. I watched Denzel, Hale, and Sidney Portier in my house and I screamed at the TV because I know what its like to sit in that first row. Being an African-American actor, its hard to believe that it took this long for Hollywood to see that ale and Denzel are such great actors.

AH: Are we ever going to see you in a romantic –comedy?

MCD: I would love to. I don’t want you guys to always see one person. It might be interesting for me to play a big, gigantic person wearing drag. The women seem to love me in drag!

AH: How do you feel about having action figures made of yourself?

MCD: I think it’s really cool. When you see stuff like that you just feel like – “man, I have a really good job right now.” I get to pretend that I am a warrior, have kids buy my action figure, and its all really eat. Success is something you dream about and you’re not sure of how it is going to taste. Well, I am tasting it right now, and it tastes really great!

Michael Clarke Duncan's 'Daredevil' DVD an edge

Judging from the other reviews I have read, my mixed assessment of "Daredevil" seems rather charitable. But things might have been different had Fox released director/writer Mark Steven Johnson's original cut of the film.

Now available on DVD, "Daredevil: The Director's Cut" restores 30 minutes of footage excised from the film's theatrical release. Some directors' cuts are just longer, but this director's cut is a vast improvement. What was a mediocre film is now pretty good.

The theatrical version can be summed up as boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets revenge on the bad guys who killed his girlfriend. Elektra, played by Jennifer Garner, gets almost as much attention as the title character. Johnson's original version, however, keeps the focus squarely on Daredevil, and gives his star, Ben Affleck, more room to breathe. Affleck can actually act, when given a chance, but the "Daredevil" that hit theaters leaves some of his best moments in the cutting room.

The basic plot, adapted from the Marvel comic book, is unchanged. Daredevil, who by daylight is attorney Matt Murdock, is the guardian of Hell's Kitchen, a crime-infested New York neighborhood. Although blinded as a child, Daredevil compensates with his other senses, all of which were heightened to superhuman sensitivity by the same nuclear waste that took his eyesight. His sense of hearing is so acute that it acts as a kind of radar, giving him a 360-degree field of vision. Daredevil may not be able to differentiate colors, but you can't sneak up on him in a fight, and he has the advantage in any dark alley.

As it happens, Daredevil needs every edge he can get. New York's top crime boss, the Kingpin, is moving into Daredevil's neighborhood.

The Kingpin is Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), a large man with larger ambitions and a Bronx attitude to back them up. When one of his partners, Nikolas Natchios (Erick Avari), says he wants out, Fisk manufactures evidence fingering Natchios as the Kingpin and hires the assassin Bullseye, played by an over-the-top Colin Farrell, to kill Natchios and his daughter, who just happens to be Elektra.

The director's cut has all this and more. It restores a subplot involving a drug addict (Coolio) who is framed for the murder of a prostitute who had been an informer for reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano), who is on the Kingpin story. With this subplot back where it belongs, we can now follow the trail that leads to unmasking Fisk as the Kingpin.

Better still, the new footage gives us more of Pantoliano and more of Jon Favreau as Matt's law partner, Foggy Nelson. And they have all of the best lines.

One memorable new scene has Foggy in court alone while Matt recuperates from doing his superhero thing the night before. Foggy, in desperation, looks through Matt's notes and finds, to his dismay, that they are, of course, in Braille.

Johnson's cut does leave out two scenes from the theatrical cut. The first is a scene in which Murdock goes to confession. His conversation with his parish priest (Derrick O'Connor) fills in some plot points that had been cut. The second scene is a PG-13 love scene between Affleck and Garner, which, because it is PG-13, adds nothing to the story, anyway.

The fight scenes are longer and bloodier (thus the director's cut's R rating), while other scenes play out more slowly. This "Daredevil," unlike the one that played in theaters, doesn't seem like an overly long music video.

I still have a quibble. No one has yet explained to me why Matt and Foggy, who are in private practice, are acting as prosecuting attorneys early in the film. (One explanation is that they are arguing a civil suit, but the defendant's dialogue indicates that isn't the case.) Leaving that aside, however, this is now a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The director's cut DVD is short on extras. It includes only an audio commentary with Johnson and producer Avi Arad and a short documentary, in which producer Gary Foster lamely attempts to justify the theatrical cut. Rent "Daredevil: The Director's Cut," and you'll agree that Johnson has the better end of that argument.

 


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