Michael Clarke Duncan was raised by his single mother on Chicago's South Side. Michael grew up resisting drugs and alcohol, instead concentrating on school. He wanted to play football in high school, but his mother wouldn't let him, fearing he would get hurt. He then turned to acting, dreaming of becoming a famous actor. After graduating from high school and attending community college, he worked digging ditches at Peoples Gas Company in Chicago. When he quit his job and headed to Hollywood, he landed small roles while working as a bodyguard. Michael's role in the movie Armageddon led to his breakthrough performance in The Green Mile, when his Armageddon co-star Bruce Willis called director Frank Darabont, suggesting Michael for the part of convict John Coffey. He landed the role, receiving critical acclaim for his performance.