Yaphet Kotto Poster

Quotes (9)

  • I do have a favorite kind of director, which is the kind who allows me to create. Some haven't allowed me to create and I think by doing that they don't need an actor. They need a puppet.
  • [on Homicide: Life on the Street (1993)] I felt like I was a beggar doing Homicide. Begging to act. Begging for scenes. The writing was not obviously for me. It mainly focused on others. I went from a movie star playing leads to a bit player doing one line here and one line there. The rest of the week I would be hanging around Fells Point waiting to come in and do my one line. When I asked if they could write more for me to do, they would say "You're doing great. You're the anchor of the show. "Anchor? I'm an actor, let me out!" I finally ended up writing for the show and gave myself something to do. Nine years of not acting.
  • [on filming Midnight Run (1988)] That was another difficult shoot. [Robert] DeNiro is very spontaneous and it always helps to work with an artist like that. But Marty Brest! He shot so many takes of the scenes that I lost all joy in doing the film. It became hard and tedious work. Then he stopped eating during the shoot and became thinner and thinner each day, until he looked like a ghost behind the camera. When I met Marty at the Universal Studios with DeNiro, he looked healthy and strong, but as filming went on, he began to turn into someone you would see in Dachau (Concentration Camp). It was weird. I got sick and for the whole of the film I had a fever and was under the weather for most of it. I was shocked when it came off so funny. It sure wasn't funny making it.
  • [on filming Alien (1979)] All of the scenes were challenging, particularly when you know you have to act against sets that were huge. The special effects determined where you could walk. Then you ask yourself how can you survive in acting against a monster. Will you be remembered? Ridley Scott was cool. He gave us a ninety-page outline detailing each of our characters and then he disappeared behind the camera. That's how he directs; he operates his own camera. The Alien script was tight. It was one of the best scripts I have ever read, so there was very little improve.
  • [on Live and Let Die (1973)] There were so many problems with that script. I was too afraid of coming off like Mantan Moreland. I had to dig deep in my soul and brain and come up with a level of reality that would offset the sea of stereotype crap that Tom Mankiewicz wrote that had nothing to do with the Black experience or culture. The way Kananga dies was a joke, and well, the entire experience was not as rewarding as I wanted it to be. There were a lot of pitfalls that I had to avoid, and I did.
  • [on when he decided to become an actor] I was roaming around Manhattan looking for work; in fact I had just come from an employment center in New York called 'Warren Street' where you can buy a part-time job for about ten bucks. On this particular day, I didn't feel like delivering lunches, or pushing a dolly truck through lower Manhattan, so I went up to 42nd Street around Times Square, which at the time looked like a circus: porn theaters on one side of the street and B-movies on the other. I stopped before one particular theater and there were gangster photos all over the marquee. The movie must have cost about seventy-five cents, so I went in and sat down and saw On the Waterfront. I was so blown away after that day - it was Brando's performance that made me leave the streets to become an actor.
  • If you're a black actor, you really don't have too many choices. If you keep turning things down, you might as well hit the unemployment office. If I didn't sometimes take small parts in small films I wouldn't get to play anything, and I do have to eat.
  • [on Anthony Quinn and Across 110th Street (1972)] I can't stop laughing about Mr. Quinn. He wouldn't let me have anything. When I told him about how rough I had it as a kid in Harlem, he told me how he was hanged by the neck in Russia and left for dead. I told him I'd love to win an Academy Award. "Don't bother, I'll lend you mine". "You don't know how rough it is coming up black in America". "Listen Yaphet, until you have been a Mexican, you don't know what rough means!" When we were shooting 110th in Harlem... I said to him: "Finally, I'm with my people". "Your people? My great-grandmother was a slave in Alabama!"
  • [on turning down the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)] I think I made some wrong decisions in my life, man. I should have done that but I walked away. When you're making movies, you would tend to say no to television. It's like when you're in college and someone asks you to the high school dance. You say no.