When actor Michael Clarke Duncan died from complications of a heart attack earlier this month, there was no laughter coming from his family, friends, colleagues, and former co-stars. But often during times of grief, that's exactly what mourners need. And if there's anyone who can handle the balance between light and heavy-hearted eulogies, it's Duncan's fellow actor in "The Green Mile," Tom Hanks.
At the four-hour long memorial service held in Los Angeles on Monday, Hanks poked fun at the hulking 54-year-old gentle giant, who worked as a security guard and celebrity bodyguard before getting his break in Michael Bay's "Armageddon." In his best imitations of both Duncan and Duncan's mother, Hanks told the story of how Duncan was forced to renounce his membership in a gang because his mother fit him with a frying pan and forbade him from associating with them.
The crowd in stitches, and Hanks losing it himself too, he also teased Duncan's handwriting. "It looks like a 12-year-old girl who loves horses wrote it," he said.
Nominated for an Academy Award, his role as death row inmate John Coffey in "The Green Mile" was Duncan's biggest role, and Hanks wasn't the only representative from that movie at the memorial. Director Frank Darabont was present, who spoke about Duncan's positive spirit and gentle soul. He also read a letter from Stephen King, author of the novel of the same name that "The Green Mile" was based on. He wrote "No one has ever done a character I wrote more justice."
Other famous names spoke about their memories of Duncan, like Jay Leno, Loretta Devine, and Stevie Wonder in a video message. Duncan's fiance, a distraught Omarosa Manigault, was also in attendance but did not address the gathering.
For a man with such a recognizable laugh and smile, it's only fitting that Hanks and other speakers remembered him with a few of their own.
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