Entertainment & Arts

Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan dies at 54

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Media captionDuncan played small roles before his breakthrough in The Green Mile

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who rose to prominence playing a death row inmate in acclaimed film The Green Mile, has died at the age of 54.

Duncan suffered a heart attack in July and died at a hospital in Los Angeles after failing to recover.

He was nominated for an Oscar in 2000 for his portrayal as convicted murderer John Coffey alongside Tom Hanks in The Green Mile.

Paying tribute to his co-star, Hanks described him as "magic".

"I am terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike," said the actor. "He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of The Green Mile.

"He was a big love of man and his passing leaves us stunned," Hanks added.

Image caption The actor had suffered a heart attack in July

A former bodyguard, the 6ft 4in (1.93m) Duncan was an imposing figure who played a wide variety of action roles and also voiced animated parts.

His versatility saw him team up with Bruce Willis to save the Earth in Armageddon, then play it for laughs in Will Ferrell's racing comedy Talladega Nights.

In recent years he was seen in US sitcom Two and a Half Men and could be heard in animated comedy Family Guy.

But he will be remembered primarily for his role as John Coffey a convicted murderer possessed of extraordinary healing powers, in the adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Green Mile.

His performance won him a nomination as best supporting actor and kick-started an acting career that only began once he gave up bodyguard work in his thirties.

The film's director Frank Darabont described Duncan as "one of the finest people I've ever had the privilege to work with or know".

"Michael was the gentlest of souls - an exemplar of decency, integrity and kindness," he said in a statement. "The sadness I feel is inexpressible."

Duncan, who was born in Chicago in 1957, died on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

His fiancee, the reality TV personality Reverend Omarosa Manigault, asked for privacy until his funeral and memorial events were announced.