Though Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan had many friends in Hollywood, he and explosion-loving director Michael Bay had a special relationship. Bay gave Duncan his first major movie role in 1998, casting the former bodyguard as a driller in Armageddon. Duncan would go on to star in films and TV series like Sin City, The Finder, and, most notably, The Green Mile. The actor passed away yesterday.
Action auteur Bay penned a moving ode to his fallen friend on his website yesterday — proving, once more, that the guy really does know how to tug at our heartstrings. Bay begins by remembering how he and his team discovered Duncan:
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 deep voice and said “Ok.”
From then on out he became the most improved actor on the set.
Bay also fondly recalls Duncan’s “infectious spirit and great belly laugh” before telling another story about the future Green Mile star:
When he said in the movie he “wanted to stay in the White House for the summer” he killed it. In his N.A.S.A. evaluation I told him to cry like a baby. He looked at me with his macho Duncan eyes and said “Mike I can’t do that” I said “yes you can” and it became the biggest laugh in the movie.
“I’m really sad to lose him,” Bay concludes. “Rest in peace buddy.”