Having put his deep voice and imposing presence to effective use in movies like The Green Mile, Sin City and Planet of the Apes, Michael Clarke Duncan undertakes his first regular television role in the new Fox series The Finder, playing Florida Keys bar owner Leo Knox, best buddy, bodyguard and sounding board to the title character (Geoff Stults). “He saved me years ago when I was in a bad spot, and I would never leave him,” Duncan sets up the dynamic. He describes Leo as “a very cool, calculated person. He’s very smart. He tends to think about things, while Geoff’s character, Walter, doesn’t look ahead. He looks at right now.”
Duncan had done small-screen guest spots and cartoon show voiceovers before, but never had a regular series role before he got the offer to appear in an episode of Bones last spring that was made with an eye toward spinning it off on its own. The Finder got the plum timeslot following American Idol, “not bad at all,” laughs Duncan. “But we have to make a name for ourselves.”
Meanwhile, his film career is busy as ever, and he has several movies awaiting release. From the Rough stars Taraji P. Henson as the coach of an all-female golf team at a Black university, and Duncan plays the janitor “who knows everything that’s going on.” In Robert Townsend’s The Hive, he’s the principal of a school for delinquent boys. “If they mess up, they go to prison, so I’m trying to show them, with a tough hand.” The Sibling, a slasher flick, casts him as a victim. “I don’t make it all the way through the movie.” He’s also in Mario Van Peebles’s Redemption Road. “There’s a big twist so I don’t want to tell you, but it’s a really good movie,” says Duncan, who likes being so busy. The former bodyguard didn’t become successful until his forties, so he takes nothing for granted. “I remember being homeless,” he says. “This is a dream of mine, so I can’t complain. I’m happy to be working.”
The Finder premieres January 12 on Fox.
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