“Every day Yaphet Kotto blew me away on the set of Alien,” Weaver wrote in a short statement. “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.”
Weaver ended her remembrance with the sign-off: “Rest In Peace Parker…Over and out, Ripley.”
Kotto, who died Monday at age 81, played chief engineer Dennis Parker in Alien, who almost makes it off the creature-beleaguered Nostromo, but of course Weaver’s Warrant Officer Ripley is the only human to get out alive. He also saves Ripley, but ultimately is killed by the Alien before they can escape – in part thanks to Parker.
At the 2003 Toronto Film Festival, Kotto praised Alien and director Ridley Scott for featuring a Black man and a woman in heroic roles, and also shared a movie anecdote about visiting the spot in Washington D.C. where he’d seen Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. As he was standing with his daughter at the historic site, a tourist group of Japanese children approached him. Kotto understood only one word: “Alien.”
Watch Kotto tell the story below.