Green Mile actor dies aged 54

At the age of 54, Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away at a Los Angeles hospital after never fully recovering from a heart attack suffered two months ago.

Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan
Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan, the 6ft 5in actor best know for his leading role in The Green Mile, passed away at a Los Angeles hospital, aged 54.

According to his fiancée, Reverend Omarosa Manigault, Duncan died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre after having a heart attack in July from which he never fully recovered.

The former bodyguard, who turned to acting in his 30s, appeared in dozens of films, including Armageddon, Planet of the Apes and Kung Fu Panda.

The Green Mile brought him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. The  film, based on the Stephen King novel, starred Tom Hanks as a corrections officer at a prison in the 1930s. Duncan played John Coffey, a convicted murderer.

"There was something about him that I just couldn't ignore," writer-director Frank Darabont said of Duncan in a 2000 Daily Variety interview. "After his first reading, he kept haunting me. Given that he was a fairly inexperienced actor at that point, obviously, there was a concern about, 'Gee, how would this guy do?'

"But once we put him on film, it became apparent that he was up to the task."

Duncan credited acting coach Larry Moss with teaching him "how to dig within myself" for the heavily emotional crying scenes in the movie.

"I'm an emotional person, a very emotional person," Duncan told Tribune Newspapers in 2000. "All those tears you see in the movie were mine."

was born Dec. 10, 1957, and grew up in the North Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. His father left when he was 6, and he and his sister, Judith, were raised by their mother, who steered him clear of gangs, drugs and alcohol.

Working first as a bodyguard for Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and other celebrities, he began landing small parts in films and television before the big break in The Green Mile.

The 1999 film also brought him an Academy Award nomination for the best supporting actor.