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Michael Clarke Duncan, Gentle Giant

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Michael Clarke Duncan, Gentle Giant

The death of Michael Clarke Duncan took us by surprise yesterday.

The hulking actor was young – only 54 – and though he wasn't in the top echelon of stars, his solid career kept him in the public eye for the 13 years since his breakout role in The Green Mile. The role of the imposing but gentle death-row convict John Coffey seemed tailor-made for Duncan, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

The role brought Duncan lots of attention – and new roles, like that of the Kingpin in Daredevil. The casting was surprising to fans of the comic book, since the character has always been white, but Duncan played the role well, noting, "I want [the fans] to get past that and just see the movie for what it is and see me for what I am—an actor."

In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Duncan showed that he could do comedy, too.

2012 was a good year for Michael Clarke Duncan. His career remained hot as he filmed several movies – some of which have yet to be released – and he had a supporting role in the new television show The Finder. Interviews made it clear how much he liked TV work – and how much he was looking forward to future seasons.

Written by Linnea Crowther