The Green Mile premiered in theaters sixteen years ago today. Not only that, today would have also been the fifty-eighth birthday of the film’s breakout star, Michael Clarke Duncan (Duncan passed away in 2012). Prior to The Green Mile, Duncan was a little-known actor who had small parts in movies like Friday, Bulworth, Armageddon, and A Night at the Roxbury, mainly because of his massive six-foot-five size. In fact, in many of his early roles he was credited as “Big Mike Duncan.”
It wasn’t until his role as death row inmate John Coffey in The Green Mile that audiences understood that there was far more to Duncan than just his size. The Green Mile director Frank Darabont auditioned Duncan at the suggestion of Bruce Willis, whom Duncan had worked with in Armageddon.
The screen test above demonstrates why Duncan was perfect for the role. Audiences and critics agreed, and Duncan was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Coffey.