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Michael Clarke Duncan, Smacked Down by The Rock Part One

The actor goes toe to toe with the WWF star in his new flick THE SCORPION KING

By Pamela Harland     April 24, 2002


Michael Clark Duncan stars in THE SCORPION KING
© 2002 Universal
He's big, bigger than most. But can he stack up against The Rock? You better believe it, says Michael Clarke Duncan who co-stars with the famous wrestler in The Rock's first starring role in THE SCORPION KING.

"He's six four, two seventy," says Duncan. "I'm six five, three twenty five."

Mathayus (THE ROCK) and Balthazar (MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN) are uneasy allies in the fight against Memnon in THE SCORPION KING.



Although he kids The Rock, who now goes by Dwayne Johnson (his real name), Duncan is actually a huge fan of the wrestler turned part time actor. And teaming up for the film, which has The Rock's character Mathayus - back from THE MUMMY franchise - being hired by desert tribes to put an end to the evil reign of Memnon (Stephen Brand) with Duncan playing Prince Balthazar, was good fun for Duncan who gives Johnson a lot of credit for his performance.

"He taught me a lot," says Duncan. "He taught me everything on this movie about how to take punches and how to sell punches and how to deliver punches."

Before he was aware of certain faux fighting moves, Duncan says for one particular scene he just assumed they would really be pushing and pulling at one another to make it look real. So he started to work himself up with exercise before the scene to get pumped up enough to do it.

"I was doing all these push ups and clapping my hands," says the 44-year-old Duncan, "and [Johnson] comes over and says, 'We're not actually pushing and pulling,' and I said, 'Yes, we are.' And he said, 'No, we're miming.' And I was like, 'Miming?' And he was like, 'Michael, you are stronger than I am.' And I said, 'Well, if you put it like that.' If it had not been for him telling me how to take punches and how to carry certain things I wouldn't have gotten through it."

The Rock leads the cast of the Universal release THE SCORPION KING.



More than just an admirer of Johnson's on set, Duncan is an admitted "huge WWF fan" who under no circumstance will miss wrestling's MONDAY NIGHT RAW or THURSDAY NIGHT SMACK DOWN. Not even the President of the United States can keep him from his twice a week ritual.

"The President sent me an invitation for an event and my manager said, 'Monday you leave,'" says Duncan. I said, 'Monday?' and she was like, 'Yeah, what's the problem?' And I said, 'MONDAY NIGHT RAW is on Monday, what have I always told you? Schedule everything Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday.' And she said, 'You're not going to see President Clinton just to watch The Rock?' And what can I tell you, I didn't go. Six months later I got another invitation, it fell on a Thursday which is THURSDAY NIGHT SMACK DOWN. I did not leave the house and I did not see President Clinton."

Eventually Duncan did meet The President, he says, on his turf. But nothing will stop him from watching his favorite shows, not even wrestling's questionable authenticity, which Duncan hates to acknowledge.

"Don't say that to me," says Duncan. "I'm the biggest WWF fan no matter what anyone says."

Apparently he isn't the only one. While doing another film up in Toronto he hooked up with Johnson for dinner and says the fans swarmed the wrestler like he was a rock star so to speak.

Michael Clark Duncan stars in THE SCORPION KING



"Everyone pushed past me, they thought I was the bodyguard," laughs Duncan. "I was like, 'Did you ever see THE GREEN MILE? It was an Academy Award nominated film, remember? I'm an actor.' But they pushed past me to get to this guy, it's just like being with The Beatles."

After his newfound fame with 1999's THE GREEN MILE, it wasn't easy determining what his next move should be. When you start off at such a high point Duncan received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor but lost out to Michael Caine for his role in THE CIDER HOUSE RULES - where do you go from there?

"I didn't start at the bottom and toil for maybe like 10 or 15 years," says Duncan. "So, I wanted everything to be like THE GREEN MILE. And everything is not going to be like THE GREEN MILE. That only comes around every five or 10 years, maybe if I am lucky. I was turning down roles because I was like, 'No, that's not what I'm looking for.' I was so entrenched in what happened with THE GREEN MILE that I was constantly saying, 'I want perfection.' And it wasn't coming around like that. My manager said, 'Those roles will not come around often you have to grab then when they're there and realize it when they are there.' So I think my fear was like, 'OK, what are you going to do for an encore?' And you know how it is in Hollywood, you see a person now and then in the next couple of years you don't hear from them and it's like, 'Whatever happened to so and so?'"

Check back soon for part two of our Michael Clarke Duncan profile.

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