Earlier this week, actor Yaphet Kotto passed away at the age of 81. Among the many things Koto was known for was playing Dennis Parker in 1979’s Alien, the movie that introduced us to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley and kicked off one of the most popular sci-fi/horror film franchises of all time. So understandably, Weaver penned a tribute to honor her late costar.
In case you haven’t seen Alien in a while, or perhaps have never even watched the seminal Ridley Scott flick, Yaphet Kotto’s Dennis Parker was the chief engineer aboard the Nostromo, while Ellen Ripley served as the warrant officer. Here’s what Sigourney Weaver had to say about her time working with Kotto in a statement (via Variety):
Every day Yaphet Kotto blew me away on the set of Alien. 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. Rest In Peace Parker…Over and out, Ripley.
Dennis Parker is arguably most notable in Alien for being the first Nostromo crew member to witness the Xenomorph in its fully-grown state, although unfortunately, as with almost everyone aboard the ship, he was eventually killed by the eponymous creature. It’s good to hear that Sigourney Weaver had a wonderful time working with Yaphet Kotto, so much so that she penned the above words to honor the man decades after their time together.
Although Dennis Parker time in the Alien film series was a one-and-done affair, Yaphet Kotto vocally reprised the role for the “Nostromo Edition” of the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation, specifically the “Crew Expendable” DLC. As for Sigourney Weaver, she returned as the original Ellen Ripley in 1986’s Aliens and 1992’s Alien 3, while 1997’s Alien Resurrection, which was set 200 years after the events of the third installment, saw the actress playing a Ripley clone.
Of course, his participation in Alien was just one of the ways Yaphet Kotto left his mark in the acting world. James Bond fans know him as Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big, who antagonized Roger Moore’s version of 007 in 1973’s Live and Let Die. This was Moore’s first James Bond film following Sean Connery’s brief return in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, and while not quite critically acclaimed, Live and Let Die is one of the more well-received Bond movies. It’s safe to say that many would agree Kotto’s presence is one of the main reasons for this.
Yaphet Kotto’s other notable film credits include The Thomas Crown Affair (the original), The Running Man, Midnight Run and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Kotto also assembled a lengthy TV resume, having appeared on shows like Gunsmoke, The A-Team, Fantasy Island and Murder, She Wrote. However, as far as the small screen is concerned, Kotto is unquestionably most famous for playing Lieutenant Al Giardello in Homicide: Life on the Street, with the actor sticking around for the entirety of the series’ run, as well as appearing in the follow-up TV Homicide movie and a crossover episode with Law & Order.
CinemaBlend offers its condolences and sympathies to Yaphet Kotto’s family and friends. Let us know in the poll below whether you knew Kotto best from his work on Alien or elsewhere.