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THE GREEN MILE

About the Cast And Characters
Darabont and Tom Hanks met in 1994 at the Academy Awards nominees' luncheon, Hanks attending on behalf of his nomination for "Forrest Gump," and Darabont representing rival nominee "The Shawshank Redemption."

Recalls Hanks, "I couldn't believe Frank's movie when I first saw it. I was utterly transported by this prison movie. For that to be somebody's first movie is a miraculous achievement. And I liked his sensibilities.

"With Stephen King, you think you're going to get this very particular brand of horror story, and this is really not that," Hanks adds. "This is more like a mystery than anything else, not unlike the better aspects of ‘The Shawshank Redemption.' I'm usually a great stickler for turning things down because I don't understand why the (characters) are doing what they're doing. With Paul Edgecomb, the logic is perfect."

For King, meeting Tom Hanks, who portrays his story's narrator, may have been like hearing his own voice inside his head. The author seems to have had Hanks in mind when he wrote his prison saga. "Paul Edgecomb is a Stephen King narrator if there ever was one," King says. "Tom fits like an old shoe. The minute that Frank mentioned his name to me, I thought, ‘this can't be, it's too good to be true.'"

"Sometimes when you're writing, you have an actor come into your brain for a given role," Darabont enthuses. "I got most of my first choices on this, which is unheard of. You're lucky to ever get one. The bottom line is, it's fantastic material and an amazing cast."

About his character, Tom Hanks says, "Paul's job is to keep things quiet and calm on the Green Mile until the moment comes when he takes a human being and, as officially as possible, shepherds him from this place into the hereafter. But Paul can't deny the fact that John Coffey is not your standard inmate on Death Row. It shakes Paul's confidence in his own ability to carry out his job."

David Morse, who previously starred in the television adaptation of King's novella, The Langoliers, had not heard about Darabont's script before being asked to play ‘Brutal' Howell, Edgecomb's kind-hearted enforcer on the Mile. "I heard it was a Stephen King script, and you never know what to expect. I was weeping by the end of reading it."

"John Coffey is one of the biggest men that anybody has ever seen," actor Michael Clarke Duncan offers about his first motion picture starring role. "He's seven feet tall and 330 lbs — an apparent cold-blooded murderer with two dead girls in his arms. But John Coffey is also a very special individual who understands Paul, sees the kindness that is in Paul and most of the other guards. And that's kind of the ironic twist to it."

For Duncan, playing the central role was certainly a dream come true. "I'm used to being the big tough guy, the bodyguard type," the actor says. "I had never taken on a role like this. I started reading the novel and couldn't put it down. I got emotional while reading it. Once I finished it, I said, ‘That's me. I don't care what I have to do, but I've got to play this role.'"

In contrast with his well-known supporting cast, Darabont chose this virtual unknown to star opposite Tom Hanks. "This will be the movie that makes Michael Clarke Duncan known to moviegoers," he announces. "I always felt when casting the character

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