Every so often, for reasons unknown, a member of the acting world is plucked away prematurely. Amongst some of the more senior members of this unenviable club are would-be greats James Dean, John Candy and Raul Julia, whilst in recent years the death of Heath Ledger united the world in mourning. On September 3rd, the sorrowful news of Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing meant that yet another great had joined these hallowed ranks.
As one of Hollywood’s few genuinely likeable and grounded characters, the loss of him as a person weighs heavier than of any future missed acting opportunities. At the age of 54, few would consider him young in the literal sense; though the idea of such a stunted life may leave many to reconsider. This was a man who, had things panned out differently, could very well have gone on to become a ripe-aged heavyweight of the acting profession; certainly, there are none who would question his ability.
Initially, the hulking figure of Duncan acted as a bodyguard to the stars, performing security roles for the likes of Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and The Notorious B.I.G. After the death of the latter, Duncan retired from the security profession in 1997 and took up acting on a full-time basis. Since then, he starred in many memorable roles, until the resulting effects of the heart attack he suffered on July 13 finally took his life. In memory of an acting personality who remained largely underutilised, I give you the five performances that defined Duncan’s career.
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