*Actor Yaphet Kotto, known for his work in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and “Alien,” died this week at age 81.
Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, announced his death Monday in a Facebook post, confirming he passed away Monday in the Philippines.
“You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people,” wrote Sinahon. Following news of his death, Koto’s “Alien” co-star Sigourney Weaver paid tribute by recalling his creative energy while working together on the iconic 1979 sci-fi thriller.
Kotto, who was raised in the Bronx and a descendent of Cameroonian royalty on his father’s side, played chief engineer Dennis Parker in “Alien,” with Weaver playing Ripley, the only human not killed by the blood-thirsty creature.
“Every day Yaphet Kotto blew me away on the set of Alien,” Weaver wrote in a short statement, per Deadline. “He just went for it in every scene, making the stakes higher and higher and giving each scene a terrifying reality. It was a nonstop master class for me and I will always be grateful to him.”
She ended her tribute with: “Rest In Peace Parker…Over and out, Ripley.”
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At the 2003 Toronto Film Festival, Kotto praised “Alien” director Ridley Scott for featuring a Black man in a heroic role.
At the 2003 Toronto Film Festival, Kotto recalled taking his daughter to visit the spot in Washington D.C. where he watched Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. A tourist group of Japanese children approached him and Kotto said he understood only one word: Alien. Watch him recall the moment in the clip below.
Yaphet also once spoke about the overt racism in the 1973 James Bond flick “Live and Let Die.”
“There were so many problems with that script,” Kotto said in an interview. “I was too afraid of coming off like Mantan Moreland. I had to dig deep in my soul and brain and come up with a level of reality that would offset the sea of stereotype crap that (screenwriter) Tom Mankiewicz wrote that had nothing to do with the Black experience or culture.”
He was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 1977 television movie “Raid on Entebbe.”
“He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got,” wrote director Ava Duvernay on Twitter. “But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same.”