The actor Yaphet kotto, known for being the villain in the James Bond film ‘Live and let die’ (1973) and one of the protagonists of ‘Alien’ (1979), passed away this weekend at age 81 at his residence in the Philippines. His wife confirmed the news through a post on social media where he recalled the work of this actor who collaborated with filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, Paul Schrader and Arnold Schwarzenegger: “You played a villain in several of your films but for me you are a true hero and for many people too,” he said.
Kotto, of aristocratic Cameroonian origin, was born in New York in 1939 and He made his debut as an actor at the age of 19 in the play ‘Othello’, performed in a Harlem theater from which he jumped to Broadway. He then made his debut on the small screen with a chapter in the original ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and went on to publish his own music in 1967 before his big opportunity to become one of the first African American James Bond protagonists.
Thus, Kotto played the dictator Dr. Kananga, the antagonist of Agent 007 who was then played by Roger Moore. It was the eighth installment of the saga. That work caught the attention of Ridley Scott, who signed him in the mythical ‘Alien’ like space engineer Dennis Parker, a job for which he said he gave up other big-budget projects. He also turned down, with later regret, the role of Captain Picard on the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ series.
Among other later works, he shared the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Running Man’ (1987) and with Robert De Niro in ‘Midnight Run’ (1988).