MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN
December 10, 1957
Michael Clarke Duncan first grabbed the attention of movie- goers when he starred as the
lovable oil-rigger, Bear, opposite Bruce Willis in the 1997 blockbuster Armageddon.
Born and raised in Chicago, Michael and his older sister, Judith, were reared by their devoted,
single mother who worked 18-hour days cleaning houses to support her children [His father left
when he was five].
While in high school Michael wanted to play football, and with his hulking frame he could
have very well succeeded in making the sport his profession, but his mother wouldn't let him,
fearing he would get hurt. Being the good-son, Michael turned his attention elsewhere and went
on to study Communications at Alcorn State University in Mississippi but had to drop out in
order to support his family when his mother took ill [she suffers from Lupus]. Returning to his
hometown, he landed work digging ditches with Peoples Gas Company, while moonlighting as a
bouncer at various Southside clubs. A chance encounter with a stage producer won him a security
job for the road company of Beauty Shop, Part 2, which brought the 6’5 talent to Los
Angeles after a 56-city tour.
With 20 bucks and a dream in his pocket, Michael was determined to persever in the "land
where dreams are made". To pay the bills, he found security work, and eventually obtained his
first agent who got him some work in commercials. He continued doing national and regional TV
spots before winning a walk-on role in F. Gary Gray’s hit comedy, Friday, his film debut.
"I played a gambler in one scene," he said of the exerpience, "I didn't have any lines and
I knew nothing about being on camera. I actually grinned and waved. It's so embarrassing."
For a time he worked as a bodyguard for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, between getting small
parts in television and films. But in 1998 he landed the role in Armageddon, and formed
a lasting friendship with Bruce Willis, who invited Michael to star with him in Breakfast
Of Champions and The Whole Nine Yards. In fact, it was with Bruce's help and
intervention, that Michael got an audition with director Frank Darabont who was in the midst
of casting The Green Mile. Bruce even got him an acting coach to help him prepare
for the reading. It's a good thing that he did, because Michael's performance went on to
not only surprise audiences and critics alike, but garnished him numerous nominations and
wins from every major industry orginazation out there. Without a doubt, Michael has proved
that he is a creative force to be reckoned with.
Photo © unknown - Bio by ThespianNet.com © 2001
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