The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Duncan portrayed John Coffey, a condemned man with mystical powers in the 1999 prison fable that starred Tom Hanks.
“That was my role in ‘Green Mile,’” the former NBA superstar said on “The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast” this week. “I turned it down.”
Asked why, the Hall of Famer responded: “I didn’t want to play the down-South, African American guy during slavery.” The film, based on a Stephen King novel, is set in Depression-era Louisiana.
O’Neal, whose movie credits include “Kazaam” (1996) and “Steel” (1997), conceded the part would have been no slam dunk.
“Michael Clarke Duncan did an excellent job, so I think I made the right decision because he did way better than I could have done,” O’Neal said. “But I got offered that role.”