In Memoriam

‘Bones’ Creator Hart Hanson on Working with Michael Clarke Duncan

Bones creator Hart Hanson says the late Michael Clarke Duncan, the 54-year-old veteran actor who passed away on Monday, hated being called a ‘gentle giant’ and was always on the lookout for sharks.

Carlo Allegri / AP Photos

Michael Clarke Duncan did not like the epithet gentle giant.” Of course that’s what everyone called him, but he didn’t like it. He liked being big of spirit and massive of bicep and he loved having a booming unmistakable warm voice, but he did not like being called a gentle giant. What he liked was to be called MCD.

Another thing MCD did not like is the ocean. Standing in sea water up to his knees (eyes peeled for sharks) or out in a boat, wearing a ludicrously small bright orange life vest (eyes peeled for sharks) he would bellow, “I do not like the ocean!”

He said his reason was sharks but really it was because MCD was a sinker. MCD did not like sinking. Sinking downward went against his every predilection. Upward was MCD’s preferred direction.

MCD liked to ask me, “Are you READY?” He meant, was I ready for success and work and fun and life? “Are you READY?” And the answer had better be “yes” because MCD was READY. Lines memorized, makeup applied, wardrobe perfect … MCD was READY.

MCD loved telling stories. His favorite stories targeted his own pride. I’m sorry for everyone who didn’t get to hear MCD tell the story of trying to haul himself one-handed onto a yacht in order to impress a group of gorgeous women. (Even MCD couldn’t haul MCD into a boat with any kind of grace.)

MCD loved animals. He just about went crazy when we were shooting at Jimbo’s on Virginia Key in Miami because that’s a place where people dump their unwanted pets. MCD didn’t know how to save all those feral cats but he knew how to save one. There is one scrubby little orange kitten who is arguably the luckiest creature on Earth.

MCD loved his fiancée Omarosa Manigault. They were planning their wedding. Her loss is the most profound because when his big heart gave out on him, MCD was looking upward to the best life has to offer with Omarosa. He was ready.

If MCD were to demand of me now, “Are you READY?” I would have to admit that I am nowhere near ready. None of us are.