Yaphet Kotto has died, according to his agent, Ryan Goldhar.
He was 81.
Kotto passed away in the Philippines on March 14. Kotto lived in the Southeast Asian country with his wife, Goldhar said. His career spanned an impressive 30 years.
Kotto is best known for his roles in “Alien,” “The Running Man,” “Midnight Run,” and “Live and Let Die,” in which he played the dashing Bond villain, Mr. Big. Kotto also starred as former Ugandan president Idi Amin in “Raid On Entebbe,” which tells the story of an intrepid Israeli raid to liberate hostages.
In 1994, the actor, who was of Panamanian and West Indian descent, spoke about the moment he knew he wanted to be a movie star.
“One day, when I was about 16, I walked into this theater showing ‘On the Waterfront’ and I saw Marlon Brando for the first time,” he told The Orange County Register of California. “I couldn’t speak. It was like somebody had punched me in the stomach. It was like someone had crashed cymbals in both ears. I was blasted out of the theater. I knew from that moment that I wanted to be an actor.”
As news of his passing spread, celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to the fallen star.
“Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite, “Hollywood director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Television producer David Simon added: “Memories and respect for Yaphet Kotto, whose film career was legend even before he came to Baltimore to grace our television drama. But for me, he’ll always be Al Giardello, the unlikeliest Sicilian, gently pulling down the office blinds to glower at detectives in his squadroom.”
While the official James Bond account tweeted: “We are very sorry to learn that Yaphet Kotto, who played Dr. Kananga in Live And Let Die, has passed away at the age of 81. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Rest in Power, Yaphet Kotto.