Watch: Alien and Live and Let Die actor Yaphet Kotto dies aged 81
"I'm saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time," she wrote.
"You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you're a real hero and to a lot of people also. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find.
"One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I'm gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock. I love you and you will always be in my heart.Till we meet again!"
Viola Davis, who yesterday received an Oscar nomination for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was among the Hollywood stars to pay tribute to Kotto online, saying 'your presence and talent were undeniable and magnetic'.
You were so memorable in every role you did. Your presence and talent were undeniable and magnetic...whether you were the villain or the hero. Rest well #YaphetKotto. God bless your wife and family. You will be missed.https://t.co/YQ7x5LM8ym
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) March 16, 2021
Director Edgar Wright paid tribute to the actor on Twitter praising his 'magnetic presence' and 'gravitas'.
RIP Yaphet Kotto, a brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas & naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair. So memorable as Parker in Alien, Kananga (Mr Big) in Live & Let Die, Smokey James in Blue Collar or in the simmering funny rage of Midnight Run's Alonzo Mosely. pic.twitter.com/3LSuGSQQ8X
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 16, 2021
Selma director Ava Duvernay also paid tribute saying he 'deserved more than the parts he got. But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same'.
Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite. He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got. But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir. pic.twitter.com/BqeuVc7DSB
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 16, 2021
Born 1939 in New York City, Kotto began studying acting at the age of 16, and made his professional debut in Othello aged 19.
He made his film debut in 1963, and went on to have a supporting role in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair opposite Steve McQueen.
In 1973, he landed the dual role of Mr Big/Dr Kananga in Roger Moore's debut 007 film Live and Let Die.
Roger Moore paid tribute to his co-star in his book The 007 Diaries: Filming Live and Let Die saying Kotto "showed himself to be an actor of extraordinary depth and power".
Discussing a scene together, Moore added: "Yaphet was magnificent, pulling all sorts of tricks out of his bag that he hadn't shown in rehearsal, and I was so open-mouthed at his performance that I did what I dreaded I would do and blew my tag line."
He later said that he was prevented from promoting the film. "They were afraid the public would react negatively to a black villain so they didn’t play my character up. That hurt me a lot, man,” he told Big Issue in 2015.
“I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.”
In 1979 he played Parker in Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror Alien, a role he later reprised for the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation.
"Parker was going to be bigger than life," he later told SyFy. "And I thought that Parker had to be, because one look at Ridley's sets on Alien, the hugeness of those sets, as big as this room, I said this character is going to get lost in this and so he's got to be big. Bombastic and big."
He was reportedly offered the role of Lando Calrissian for Star Wars: Episode IV - The Empire Strikes Back, but turned it down.
He appeared opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987's Running Man after passing a role in Predator, which he called 'predictable'.
Kotto was also considered for the role of Jean-Luc Picard for Star Trek: The Next Generation, but lost out to Patrick Stewart.
In later years he starred in NBC's Homicide: Life of the Street as Lieutenant Al Giardello for seven seasons and a feature film.
His wife's Facebook post revealed that Kotto had been recently offered roles in a G.I. Joe movie, and a Tom Cruise film.
Kotto married Rita Ingrid Dittman in 1959. They had three children together before divorcing in 1976. He had three children with his second wife Toni Pettyjohn before divorcing in 1989. He married Tessie Sinahon in 1998.
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