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Film Icons: Michael Clarke Duncan


When you mention the name "Michael Clarke Duncan", people will usually say, "Isn't he the big black actor who looks like a huge gorilla?" The reason you people remember him as a gorilla is because he did play one in Planet of the Apes. But still, shame on you people.

He is more than an ape, people.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, big African-American male actors were limited to roles that required big African-American physiques, such as football players, basketball players, bodyguards, or bouncers. If you were black, male, and at least 6 feet tall, you were usually given a role which did not require you to talk, and were often relegated as one of those out-of-focus background people. Either that, or you were cast as comic relief.

Then one day, these actors (who I shall be referring to henceforth as the "Big Black Bouncers") decided they had enough, and slapped Hollywood in the face with their acting ability, which everyone thought was non-existent.

The revolution began with this man:

Forest Whitaker
1.88 meters
6 feet 2 inches

Although he got his break in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, he was cast as supporting comic relief. Whitaker showed us that Big Black Bouncers can do serious drama with Platoon in 1986.

Then in 1994, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino gave this Big Black Bouncer a chance to shine:

Celeb Foreclosures
Ving Rhames
1.83 meters
6 feet

Although smaller than Forest Whitaker, Ving Rhames looked more like a Big Black Bouncer who shouldn't be acting at all. But he did well, because after Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, in a totally unprecedented casting move, Ving Rhames was cast in 1996's Mission: Impossible as a computer hacker. A big black computer hacker.

Then in 1997, Steven Spielberg showed us that even Big Black Bouncers imported from Africa could act, by casting this man in his 1997 film Amistad:

Djimon Hounsou
1.88 meters
6 feet 2 inches

Feeling that the Big Black Bouncers weren't getting the recognition they deserved, they sent in Mr. Michael Clarke Duncan to show the world what a Big Black Bouncer can do.

The Hollywood Gossip
Michael Clarke Duncan
1.96 meters
6 feet 5 inches

First he was cast in the 1998 film Armageddon, where he honed his acting skills. The following year, he played John Coffey in The Green Mile, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Finally, the Big Black Bouncers were being noticed by their Hollywood peers.

In 2000, another Big Black Bouncer (although just an inch shorter than MCD) starred as the patriarch of the Capulet (O'Day) household in that great black-kung-fu crossover Romeo Must Die.

Pop Tower
Delroy Lindo
1.93 meters
6 feet 4 inches

One Big Black Bouncer decided to try penetrating television, and was successful.

Zap 2 It
Chi McBride
1.94 meters
6 feet 4½ inches

Mr. McBride starred in the critically-acclaimed Boston Public from 2000 to 2004. Despite being just half an inch shorter than Michael Clarke Duncan (the largest of the Big Black Bouncers so far), he went on to have a great career in television, starring in other great shows such as Pushing Daisies.

Then in 2006, an import from the UK got to star in the muscle-and-abs fest 300.

Weary Sloth
Peter Mensah
1.92 meters
6 feet 3½ inches

However, he didn't last 15 minutes into the film, and he died by Gerard Butler's famous "This is Sparta" kick.

Iran Politics Club
"Grab hold of my leg!"

The fact that a Big Black Bouncer died at the hands of a white guy with a thick Scottish accent angered Mr. Forest Whitaker, the man who started it all. So that same year, he starred as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, where he finally won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role, earning the respect of the entire American film industry.

"Who's Scottish now, Butler?"

After Forest Whitaker's vindication, Big Black Bouncers from across the Atlantic were once again welcomed on American shores.

The Movie Report
Idris Elba
1.90 meters
6 feet 2¾ inches

This, by the way, is a tribute post to Michael Clarke Duncan. This post is not meant to mock him, ridicule him, nor poke fun at his memory. At 6 feet and 5 inches, Michael Clarke Duncan is the biggest of all the Big Black Bouncers, and his legacy was showing everyone that Big Black Bouncers are more than their size and their skin color. They are great actors, and they are recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In fact, as recently as this year, one Big Black Bouncer, refusing to be remembered as just another comical, chest-wiggling, breakdancing black guy, decided to try his hand at doing drama. Just because he can.

Terry Crews
1.89 meters
6 feet 2½ inches

Wait, wait... did I say that Michael Clarke Duncan is the biggest of the Big Black Bouncers? Sorry, my bad. He shares that record with someone else─the big black prisoner from The Dark Knight.

Gone Movies
Tommy "Tiny" Lister
1.96 meters
6 feet 5 inches

Michael Clarke Duncan. 10 December 1957 ─ 3 September 2012.

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