Green Lantern hit theaters this week and made an estimated $52.7 million at the box office, coming in at No.1, but that is just a mere fraction of the $200 million that was spent making the film. The movie, starring Ryan Reynolds as a citizen-turned-superhero, also features critically acclaimed actor Michael Clarke Duncan as the voice of Kilowog, the intergalactic drill sergeant who trains members of the Green Lantern Corps.
The Chicago native began acting after doing security for A-list celebrities like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J and the Notorious B.I.G. Initially recognized for his deep voice and muscular build in 1998, Duncan got his big break in Armageddon, where he became friends with castmate Bruce Willis. It was Willis’ influence that led the former bodyguard to his breakout role as John Coffey in The Green Mile, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Rolling out recently had the opportunity to chat with the busy actor about his experience filming Green Lantern, voice-over roles and the current climate in Hollywood for African American actors. –christa e. jackson
Tell me about your character, Kilowog, in Green Lantern.
Kilowog is the strongest of all the Green Lanterns, He is a drill sergeant that makes sure that you are worthy of being a Green Lantern. He takes the recruits through some rigorous training and makes sure you are capable of handling the task of being a Green Lantern. It’s a dream come true to have the opportunity to play this role of one of my childhood heroes, and I thank God every morning for these blessings.
What attracted you to this movie project and to this particular character?
I’ve been a comic book fan my whole life, and I remember when comic books cost 15 cents. When I was young, I had all the popular comics books like the Green Lantern, so I loved the comic book, and I was always attracted to the big guy. Kilowog was one of my favorite comic book characters. He’s a big guy who is actually nice and sweet. Just don’t get on his bad side.
I’m not a stranger to voice-over, having played the character of Commander Vachir the Javan Rhino in Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2. The thing about voice –over work is that you don’t have to worry about going on the set dealing with makeup and wardrobe. You can go into a private studio and play the character. The director of Green Lantern was very particular and wanted the Kilowog voice to be authentic, so I actually had to record the voice for this movie twice because they felt he was too hard and needed to be nicer. I love voice-over work. You go into a studio with your script, play your role, and you’re done.
How is the current climate in Hollywood for African American actors and actresses?
I think there are roles for us out there, but I also think they are few and far in between. Personally, I have been very selective with the roles that I choose because I want to make sure the image that I put out is one I can be proud of, but all of us don’t look like Denzel Washington, and I think we need more roles and opportunities to play positive characters.