Yaphet Kotto passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Best known for his roles as Parker in Ridley Scott’s first Alien movie and the villain Dr. Kananga in Live and Let Die, Roger Moore’s first outing as James Bond, the actor also appeared in The Running Man, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Homicide: Life on the Street, and more.
But perhaps his bigger legacy is the roles he didn’t play. Kotto is said to have turned down the part of Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, but also Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. His work speaks for itself, but he helped shape a massive part of sci-fi pop culture beyond that, even if inadvertently.
Born in 1939 — and descended from Cameroonian royalty through his father — Kotto started his career on Broadway in New York, but transitioned to Hollywood and movies in his early 20s. While he was never a household name, rest assured Yaphet Kotto was the real deal:
Kotto is survived by his wife and six children. No cause of death has been reported.