DD Int: Kingpin
I doesn't take a genius to realize that Michael Clarke Duncan is a big guy. But it takes a face-to-face meeting for it to sink in how really BIG he is. In a large room full of probably 100 journalists, his voice booms loud above all else. His biceps stretch the very limits of his shirt fabric. As is often the case though, the big man has a gentle soul. Funny, religious, inspirational and not the least bit self-important. Here's more from Michael Clarke Duncan:
How are you?
MCD: I'm just happy to be alive. We take life for granted sometimes. We wake up and make plans like next week you want to do this and in two months I'm going to Jamaica. Everybody thought the shuttle (Columbia) was going to land on time. We never anticipated that happening. Nobody saw that coming. I looked up in the sky and I was coming to do the press junket yesterday and there were the big fumes from the shuttle crossing over. I took my camera out and thought "those people are gone now." Just like that. So what do you have to complain about when you wake up and go play a character that's bigger than life, has all this money and kicks Daredevil's behind?
So when something like that happens, does doing a press junket for a movie like this seem trivial?
MCD: It really does. You have to understand, none of us understand what those seven families are going through right now. What they're going through, what they feel. And those families were there awaiting for the shuttle to land so they could have breakfast with their loved ones or husbands or somebody. I mean, that's a real tragic event and then you wake up and look at your life and this table has nothing to complain about this morning cause we're all alive and we're all here. We're here because of a movie where I was playing The Kingpin and Ben was playing like he was a Daredevil. That's reality. This is make believe right here.
You sound like a spiritual guy.
MCD: You know, I think a lot. I read a lot and I know that this life is short. And it's just like a crapshoot. We don't know what's gonna turn up. We don't know what's gonna turn up when we leave from here or next week and I think we should always be appreciative when we wake up in the morning. A lot of people wake up and go, "aww, I gotta do this," what the hell are you complaining for man? A lot of people who went to sleep last night didn't wake up this morning. Stop complaining. You got a complaint? Do something about it. But if you don't want to do something about it, stop complaining. That's my philosophy.
When casting this movie, you're already a large in stature guy, and then they tell you to gain more weight. Can you talk about that?
MCD: Oh man, it was right back to THE GREEN MILE. I was like "Awww, man." Look, I told Mark, "how much weight?" and he said 350 and I said Mark that's too much. That's GREEN MILE weight where I was just miserable. I said I'd do 335 and that's it. No more, no less, that's all I'll give you. And his complaint was when they tried the suits on, they tried them on when I was like this. So naturally when he walked in he said, "That's not the Kingpin! Look how the suits are fitting."
Then they put all this padding in me and it made me look so...dorky cause the shoulder came up to right here (motions next to his ears) and I said, "that's not the Kingpin either." That's stupid. I said "tell you what - trust me to know that I will work out and eat and get the muscle you need". And he said, "I don't know..." but every wardrobe fitting I came to, they took out less and less pads. until Mark walked in on the final wardrobe fitting and he's like, "See, I told you! The pads are great!" and the guy said, "There's no padding there." He walked up and felt my chest and I said, "Hey man, what're you doing feeling my chest." It's all me, take my word for it. But actually gaining the weight was one of the hardest things to do. Taking it off is easy.
Does it concern you that that's not healthy?
MCD: It concerned me when I went to the doctor when I was weighing 338 and my doctor asked me what I was doing and I said I was filming a movie and this guy is big. And he said I want you to watch your blood pressure because it's unusually high for you. Normally my blood pressure is normal all the time for someone my size because I work out a lot. I told him it was only for a month and that I'd lose the weight right after that. That was my only concern.
You have a big appetite?
MCD: Yes, I do and I try to watch it but you know, all the time...once I start eating, it's my passion.
What's it take to fill you up?
MCD: As a child, you have to remember I started cooking at the age of six. My mother taught me how to cook because she never wanted a woman holding over my head that she wasn't going to cook for me on any given occasion. So I know how to go in and burn. Every morning I'd go in and have 12 eggs with cheese, I'd have a pound of bacon and six slices of toast. That's what I would eat every morning. My cousins were in town one day and they said, "Your brother is so nice, he's making breakfast for everyone." My sister looked at them and said, "That's not for you guys, that's for him." My cousin said, "No, no, he got a pound of bacon, he's cooking for everyone." She said, "well go in there and ask him." My cousin said, "Michael that's really nice of you to cook breakfast..." I was like you're not getting any of this, and I sat at that table and ate EVERYTHING. And that's when the weight started coming on as a young kid.
As an actor, do you find it hard to convince people of the acting ability when all they see is the size?
MCD: Producers always look at size. That's the first thing they say. He's too big to be this, he's too big to be that, he can't be a lawyer because he's too big. It irks me sometimes because my people say, "You should lose some more weight." I say I'm not losing any weight unless I have a job in front of me. It just doesn't seem right to me to get down to 270 pounds if there's not a contract that says "Be at 270." If you put a contract that says to be at 270-275, then I'll say I have THIS to look at so I have to get down. But I'm not going to get down just to be doing it. Just to show these producers I can do it. If you can't tell from the amount of work I've done, then I guess I won't have that job because I'm not trying to conform to Hollywood that much.
You've admitted one of your greatest ambitions is to win an Oscar. Very few actors admit that's one of their ambitions...
MCD: Oh man, I wanna win the gamut. Golden Globes, SAG, Oscars...then I want to go to television and get an Emmy. I'm not gonna lie to you, I think about it. When I was sitting there in that row and they said "Michael..." all they had to do was say "Clarke" and I was gonna run all through that theater, but when they said "Caine" I just...ARGH. And you gotta sit there and smile, but in your mind you're like (slouches in chair, makes face in disbelief and waves his hand in a shooing motion). (laughs) That's what I really wanted to do! I mean, any person that's a competitor...when you're a competitor, if someone gets the last basket, you go "Aw man!" When they said Michael Caine won I said, "C'mon! I saw that movie! Puhleeze..." But one day. One day I will hoist it high. This I promise you.
What kind of roles are you looking at?
MCD: You know, action roles are coming my way more than anything else, but I would love to do a romantic comedy. I would love to...where I'm the geek or nerd or something and at the end I get the girl. I would love to do something like that because I think comedy is really good too. I don't want to just be an actor for action or drama.
You wanna be a geek?
MCD: Yeah. Hell yeah!
Are geeks this big?
MCD: Yeah, yeah! I can be a real nerdy geek. I could change my voice and everything. I would love to do that man.
You sound like a real positive person. Was there ever a time when you didn't get a role or an audition went badly where you doubted yourself?
MCD: When I had my screen test for THE GREEN MILE, I walked in and just saw Tom Hanks and I just froze. I just literally got goosebumps, I couldn't talk. It was like seeing Michael Jordan, knowing you gotta play one-on-one against him to make the Chicago Bulls. You know what this guy can do. And I walked in there and just a cool breeze hit me and I froze up. The first lines out of my mouth were so fast, the director just walked up and called cut. He said, "Maybe you should just take some time and get it together."
And I went in a corner - and I talk to myself a lot, so in the corner this is me talking to me, I've split from myself - and one of myself is like, "What is wrong with you? Waited your whole life for this, you came from 47th street in Chicago, you're here with a two-time academy award winner. What are you afraid of?" I was like, "nothing." "Then get out there and do what you know you can do and make your mother happy!" And I geeked myself up, you know hit myself on the chest and turned around and the rest is history.
If you could do any project you wanted, what would you do?
MCD: I'd like to do a story about my life. I really would. I'd like to do a story about how I came up and how I did this. Wouldn't want to be in it, but I'd really love to write and produce something like that. I think I would want to do it all in Chicago. Get someone to play my mother or let her play a cameo, my sister, my niece and stuff like that. I'm interested in family things like that.
Are you writing something down?
MCD: You know what I do? I use a tape recorder because I can't...to me writing is very difficult. Directing is very, very difficult because you're there all day and I don't wanna be there all day. I wanna be a producer who comes in with the money with my Leer jet waiting at the airport and say, "You guys cool? Anything happens, call me!"
What is the pivotal scene in this life story?
MCD: There is a scene in my mind, this actually happened, GIUs are cops in Chicago. Gang Intelligence Unit. They would really mess with the black kids in the neighborhood. One day they pulled up on me, two squad cars in that angle, and they got out and they were the biggest guys you'd ever seen. And they asked me what I was doing and did I have any drugs. Then they snatched my bag from me and I just had some brand new Converse I had just bought, and they were white - the cloth kind. And they dumped my bag out in this water.
At that point, I just wanted to hit one of them because he was right in my face and he knew it. He said, "You want to hit me, don't you?", but he didn't say that. He said, "You want to hit me--" and used the N-word. I was like, "No sir" because I knew what that would do it. That would prompt them to beat my behind. In my mind, that was a turning point in my life because I said, "You know what, I'm not gonna live like this. I'm not gonna be harassed every day. I'm gonna make a better life for myself, get away from all this. I used to want to live in the neighborhood I grew up in, but it changed when stuff like that started happening.
Who's gonna play you?
MCD: You know what, I dunno. Maybe I'll get Ving Rhames to play me. (laughs) We get mixed up together anyway. He'd be perfect to play me.
Are you contractually obliged for a DAREDEVIL sequel?
MCD: Yup. I signed a two-picture deal.
I heard you wanted to appear in the SPIDER-MAN sequel...
MCD: Yeah, you know they gotta bring those two together. SPIDER-MAN and DAREDEVIL together. They have a big fight and the Kingpin is the reason they fought. You have to bring Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire together. It'd be the biggest movie in history.
Have you told this to the Marvel people?
MCD: Yeah, but they're saying that Fox is this entity and Sony is this entity. They all can't sit down like this. I guess Fox has these antennas and Sony has these Octopus arms and they won't go together. To me, if I were a producer, I would get that deal done. Give me 3-5 years and I could get it done. I could.
Impressions on working with Colin?
MCD: Colin is crazy man. CRAZY. He is over-the-top, always energetic, fun...he's the type of guy that when I came up, and I've only been acting since '98, people were like don't say this and don't use that word. But Colin's just like "BEEP, BEEP BEEP BEEP, BEEP!..." I watched him on Jay Leno last year and when he first came out he went, "what the BEEP!" I was like "oh MAN." But I like a guy like that. He's a guy that Hollywood hasn't changed. He is who he is. Either you like him or you don't like him and I think that's why Hollywood loves him. Or a person like Dennis Rodman who people love to hate. But you respect that he says what he wants to.
And that was it with Michael. A very cool man, as you can see. Stay tuned for the rest of this week as we have plenty more DAREDEVIL INTERVIEWS to come!
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...