While he’s best remembered for playing John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” the late Michael Clarke Duncan gave us many memorable roles throughout his career. One of them was as crime lord Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. Kingpin) in the 2003 superhero movie “Daredevil.” This role proved to be a major physical challenge for Duncan as it made him see how loyal comic book fans are, and it also changed how he took care of his body after he did the movie.
Kingpin is an overweight corporate head who is also the sole person running organized crime, and he is incredibly strong despite having no superhuman powers. When cast in this role, Duncan weighed 290 pounds and was asked to gain 40 pounds in order to better fit the physique of Kingpin. To accomplish this, Duncan ended up lifting weights for 30 minutes a day, power-lifted with one or two reps a day, and (like when Robert De Niro prepared to play Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull”) ate whatever he wanted.
Duncan’s biggest concern, however, was that Kingpin was always seen as a white person and he is black. Duncan made it clear to comic book fans everywhere that he was more than aware of the loyalty they show to these works:
“They watch movies to say, ‘Hey, that’s not like the comic book,” said Duncan. “But I want them to get past that and just see the movie for what it is and see me for what I am-an actor.”
There were rumors for a while of a “Daredevil” sequel, and Duncan stated that he was interested in reprising Kingpin but that he was not willing to regain all that weight as he was comfortable being down to 270 pounds. He did however say that if 20th Century Fox were to offer him $20 million, he might just change his mind. Duncan even suggested that Kingpin could have trained a lot during his stint in jail which would allow him to become faster in combat against Daredevil, and this would allow the filmmakers to fit his weight loss into the story.
In 2009, Duncan became a vegetarian and boasted of his “increased strength” and how he was “a lot stronger than I was when I was eating meat.” It’s a shame that he is no longer with us as his performance as Kingpin was one of the highlights in “Daredevil,” a movie which proved to be one of the lesser comic book adaptations in the past few years. Whatever his size, he would still have been perfect as the feared and powerful crime lord.
Michael Clarke Duncan’s Preparation for ‘The Green Mile’
How Tom Hardy Became Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
How Anne Hathaway Transformed into Catwoman for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
“Daredevil” film Wikipedia page
Ryan J. Downey, “Ben Affleck Dares to Dream ‘Daredevil’,” MTV.com
Michael Clarke Duncan Wikipedia page
“‘Green Mile’ star joins veggie campaign,” kshb.com, May 12, 2012.