I was bummed to learn of the death of Bill Nunn today.
Nunn, 62, was one of those great character actors you couldn’t help but see him in something. Whether He Got Game, Kiss the Girls, Won’t Back Down or the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, he was a welcome presence in any film. I know most folks immediately think Radio Raheem from Do The Right Thing, but my favorite Nunn role was as the Duh Duh Duh Man in New Jack City.
My Dear Friend, My Dear Morehouse Brother- Da Great Actor Bill Nunn As Most Of You Know Him As Radio Raheem Passed Away This Morning In His Hometown Of Pittsburgh. Long Live Bill NUNN. RADIO RAHEEM Is Now RESTING IN POWER. RADIO RAHEEM WILL ALWAYS BE FIGHTING DA POWERS DAT BE. MAY GOD WATCH OVER BILL NUNN.
One of the defining movies of my teen years was New Jack City. I was just starting to get into gangster movies. I greedily consumed The Godfather trilogy, couldn’t get enough of Scarface and enjoyed Goodfellas immensely. But there was something so cool about watching a gangster movie featuring a predominantly black cast.
My love of wrestling dated back even earlier. I loved stables and factions of heels teaming up for a common goal so I was immediately taken by New Jack City’s Cash Money Brothers. They weren’t like The Corleone Family, they stuck together by choice — not blood.
Nunn played Duh Duh Duh Man as the CMB’s main enforcer who just so happened to have a stuttering problem. Played too over the top and Nunn would have just been comic relief. Sure, he was the butt of some jokes, but he came off tough at the same time.
Here’s a clip from one of my favorite scenes. It’s NSFW so be warned.
Beyond New Jack City, Nunn was a regular fixture in Spike Lee films appearing in Mo Better Blues, School Daze and Do the Right Thing. His role as Radio Raheem in the latter oddly seems very topical these days. Nunn was a terrific performer. That reminds me, it’s been way too long since I watched New Jack City.