August 21, 2006 12:00 PM

Now 270 lbs.

Then 360 lbs.

Michael Clarke Duncan made his name as a big guy: In The Green Mile, The Scorpion King and Daredevil, the 6′5″ actor weighed in at 360 lbs. Then, a year ago, he decided to go from hulk to hunk. “I wanted to do a love scene with a tank top on,” says Duncan. “But I looked like I was nine months pregnant—that wasn’t cute at all.”

So Duncan, 49, decided to whip himself into shape with a uniquely grueling workout. He bought himself a 100-lb. tractor tire that he ran with—and hit with a sledgehammer. Says Duncan, who plays a pit crew captain in the Will Ferrell comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: “It’s good for your sides.” So are kickboxing, Pilates and push-ups. Now 270 lbs., Duncan is proud of his new energy, which comes in handy when training alongside his girlfriend, Irene Marquez, 26. He can’t understand why his nephews, 7 and 14, whom he has dragged along for workouts at an L.A. park, call him a drill sergeant: “I’m like, ‘Aren’t you guys having fun?’ This is my idea of fun.”

Okay, so veggies and chicken are not quite as fun as the soda and fried food he has sworn off. But his craving for potato chips with hot sauce is no match for that other longing. “I want females to see me as a sex symbol,” says Duncan. “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready.”

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