Behind the scenes with ''Daredevil'''s Kingpin. Michael Clarke Duncan tells about Ben, J. Lo, the Rock, and more

By Brian Hiatt
Updated February 20, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Michael Clarke Duncan: Dan Callister/Getty Images

Unlike Ben Affleck, Michael Clarke Duncan doesn’t need a costume to look like he stepped out of the pages of a comic book. As Daredevil’s crime lord nemesis Kingpin, the 6’5” Duncan’s only props are a cigar, a diamond-tipped cane, and some pimped-out, plus-sized custom suits. His SUV-size physique and subwoofer-straining speaking voice — which makes Darth Vader sound like Justin Timberlake — do the rest. Clarke, still best known as ”The Green Mile”’s saintly John Coffey, reveals his crush on costar Jennifer Garner, assesses Affleck’s action skills, and unveils a grisly scene missing from the movie.

Your last costar in an action movie was The Rock in ”Scorpion King.” How does Ben Affleck measure up?
They’re both charismatic. They both can go into a room and command attention right away. And they’re both gonna be mega-superstars — Ben already is. Dwayne, he wrestles, so it was much easier with fights. He took joy in doing his own stunts. He can teach you how to fall, how to flip someone, or how to pick somebody up by the throat without actually choking someone. Ben is more of an actor. He’s pretty clumsy [laughs]. But you can’t be the world’s sexiest man and be skilled at everything. On a scale of 1 to 10, Ben’s about a 3. Me? I’m a nine-and-a-half — almost 10.

Did J.Lo ever stop by the set?
She came to the set one time. She’s, well, she’s very beautiful. He certainly can’t ask for anything more in a woman than what he’s got right there. Ben never did speak about it. He’s not the type of guy to brag about something like that. He kept his business to himself, which was good.

What did you base the Kingpin on?
I said, How would I act if I was running New York, no one could touch me, and I had all these millions of dollars? If everybody cringed at the sight of me, and I had women and diamonds and everything, how would I act?

So basically, you pretended you were P.Diddy?
[laughs] Yeah.

Any good Kingpin scenes get left in the editing system’s hard drive?
There’s a scene where I kill my bodyguard that they said was too graphic for the kids. And it was! Somebody’s leaking information about the Kingpin, and they don’t know who it is. So, naturally, I think it’s my bodyguard, and all of a sudden I whip my cane out and blast him in the head. He falls, and I grab him in a full nelson and just break his neck. They said, ”This is too much.” But hopefully, that’ll be on the DVD.

Kingpin’s also an enemy of Spider-Man, and you’re already doing his voice on MTV’s Spidey animated series. Is that a hint of things to come?
I said that I can’t see anyone else doing it. That’s my character. It’s funny, I talked to a Fox executive, and said, ”Man, it would be nice if you could get Spider-Man and Daredevil to fight in a movie with the Kingpin. It would be humungous.” But the guy just went, ”Ehhh, I don’t know.”

Immediately after ”Green Mile,” were you pigeonholed as the gentle giant?
That’s why I wanted to play Kingpin. Because I’m totally mean in this movie. The Kingpin is totally not John Coffey. He’d probably have John Coffey killed. So it just brings another dimension to my acting. It’s like Denzel doing ”Training Day” — no one ever saw Denzel like that. I’d also love to be in a romantic comedy. It’d be fun to play a nerd type of guy.

Maybe you could costar again with Jennifer Garner….
I suggested to the [”Daredevil”] filmmakers that maybe she could kind of fall for the Kingpin. It didn’t work out. [laughs] That woman has a body on her. I know she’s married, but boy… to see her do these flips in person, I’m telling you, it would turn you on. She’s very sexy. That’s the kind of woman I like.

Daredevil (film)

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 96 minutes
  • Mark Steven Johnson