Standing 6'5" and weighing over 300 pounds, African American actor Michael Clarke Duncan inarguably possesses one of Hollywood's more unforgettable figures. A former bodyguard and bouncer, Duncan first gained attention when he appeared as one of a group of oil drillers sent to stop an asteroid from annihilating the Earth in the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon. A year later, Duncan's career got another significant boost when the actor earned lavish critical plaudits for his portrayal of a wrongfully convicted death row inmate in The Green Mile.
Born in Chicago on December 10, 1957, Duncan was raised on the city's south side by his single mother. A serious student, Duncan decided that he wanted to play football in high school; after his mother refused to let him, fearing he would get hurt, he developed an interest in acting instead. Following his graduation from high school, the aspiring actor studied communications at Mississippi's Alcorn State University. His studies were cut short when he returned to Chicago to attend to his mother, who had fallen ill. He subsequently found work digging ditches with the Peoples Gas Company and moonlighted as a club bouncer. His work led to a chance encounter with a stage producer who hired him as a security guard for a traveling theatre company, which eventually brought Duncan to Hollywood.