Movie Flashback: 13 Years Ago Today Audiences Were Introduced to a Gentle Giant in this Stephen King Adaptation
12.10.12 by Chris
I guess sometimes the past just catches up with you, whether you want it to or not.
The Shawshank Redemption is regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. Director Frank Darabont's adaptation of a Stephen King short story that takes place inside a prison is the No. 1 movie on IMBD's Top 250 list (voted on by users), beating out The Godfather). Most directors wouldn't dare try to duplicate that kind of success but lightening struck twice for Darabont when he adapted another King prison story in 1999's The Green Mile, starring Tom Hanks, which was released on this day in 1999 (ranked No. 64 on IMDB's list)
The movie tells the story of a death row inmate who is discovered to have miraculous powers. Of course, everyone knows the name of that inmate — Michael Clarke Duncan, the 6-foot, 5-inch tall actor who made even the manliest of men weep in his role as the gentle giant in The Green Mile. Sadly, Duncan died earlier this year at the age of 54.
Duncan had brief roles playing bouncers in movies like Bulworth and A Night at the Roxbury before Michael Bay cast him in Armageddon. After Ducan's passing, Bay wrote about casting him in Armegddon.
We found him in a gym. He cried at the first audition because he was so proud to audition for a 'Michael and Jerry movie', he just wanted to make his mom proud. We gave him the role in the room.
His first day on Armageddon he sucked. I remember looking to Ben Affleck and thinking we might need to fire him. But I told him 'Mike, I hired you for you, I want the sweet, Mr Clarke Duncan I met in that room'. I said, 'The audience is going to fall in love with you'.
He looked and smiled with a deep voice and said 'Ok'.
From then on out he became the most improved actor on the set. That was the award he got at the end of the film. Everyone loved him, his infectious spirit and great belly laugh.
Duncan and Bruce Willis became friends while filming Armageddon and it was Willis who helped get Ducan the role that got him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
After reading the script for The Green Mile, Willis called Darabont and recommended Duncan for the role.
The movie was a box office and critical success, earning $290 million and four Oscar nominations.
Where to watch it: The Green Mile is available on DVD, Amazon, and iTunes.