AJB Interview with Yaphet Kotto

BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
The distinguished actor Yaphet Kotto has agreed to answer a few questions from us.
His long career includes Alien, The Running Man, Midnight Run and many more but for James Bond fans he will forever be Dr Kananga and Mr Big in Live And Let Die.

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Read The Interview
https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/958653#Comment_958653

This will be a telephone interview so please keep your questions brief. As usual no personal questions please, and Mr Kotto reserves the right to not answer any particular question as he sees fit.
At this point I don't know what time suits him for the call so I'm not putting a time limit on this until I hear back.

Read The Interview
https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/958653#Comment_958653
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Comments

  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 2,909Quartermasters
    Well done Barbel, "a brilliant coup" as the Canadian chessmaster MacAdams once said.

    I'd like to know how it felt as an African American actor in the early 70s to see the James Bond series borrowing stylistically from the trends in black cinema at the time?
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    Another amazing interview -{

    Does Yaphet Kotto prefer theatre to film ?
    Having been in so many fantastic films over many years, is there any modern
    character in movies, if he would love to have played, if like all of us he was a
    little younger ?
    How did he feel about his underwater fight with Sir Roger at the end of LALD, as
    I've read that he couldn't swim ? I think that shows huge courage.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,555MI6 Agent
    How confident did he feel that the public would accept a new James Bond after Connery's long time in the role?
  • moneyofpropremoneyofpropre Posts: 29MI6 Agent
    Well we don't know many deleted scenes of this movie. Did he remember shooting scenes that didn't make the final cut (what's these scenes include) ?
  • ChriscoopChriscoop Belize Posts: 10,409MI6 Agent
    Live and Let Die often gets refered to as the Blaxploitation Bond, was this a conscious thing when you filmed?
    I've always been intrigued by your fighting style with the knife against Bond, it's very elegant, is it based on any particular style or choreographed purely to look good on screen?
    Lastly, we're there any real sharks present when you personally filmed?
    Many Thanks, truly an honour.
    It was either that.....or the priesthood
  • AndrewBondAndrewBond Skyfall, UKPosts: 64MI6 Agent
    Live and Let Die is one of my favourite Bonds - well done Barbel!

    I’d be interested to know what Yaphet thought about acting as Mr Big behind the prosthetics - how did he find the experience? Did it hinder or help his ability to portray Mr Big, and how long did he have to spend in the make up?

    If time I’d also love to know... Live and Let Die was Roger Moore’s first appearance as Bond, how does Yaphet feel about Roger’s performance over the seven films he did and the legacy he leaves behind?

    Thanks! -{
    ‘Secret Agent?? On whose side?’
  • hehadlotsofgutshehadlotsofguts Durham England Posts: 2,075MI6 Agent
    What was your reaction, when watching Kananga's death scene for the first time at the premiere of LALD?

    Many thanks
    Have you ever heard of the Emancipation Proclamation?"

    " I don't listen to hip hop!"
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    Before you accepted the part of Mr Big/Dr Kananga, you'd naturally have read the script. Had you perhaps read the Ian Fleming book as well?

    (Thanks for the kind words, guys, much appreciated)
  • JoshuaJoshua Posts: 963MI6 Agent
    This is not a question, but I would be most grateful if you could tell Mr Kotto that I think he was one of the best Bond villains.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    I certainly will, Joshua, and I believe many will agree with you.

    (Some might say he was TWO of the best Bond villains! :)) )
  • ChriscoopChriscoop Belize Posts: 10,409MI6 Agent
    I agree with Joshua, I loved Yaphet in midnight run also, as the cigarette stealing fbi agent. He was the Sidney Poitier of my generation.
    It was either that.....or the priesthood
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    Watching Mr Kotto now in the first series of The A Team -{
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,685MI6 Agent
    Terrific, versatile actor -- great in so many roles, including Across 110th Street, Homicide: Life on the Street, Midnight Run, and many more. My two favorites are in Alien, where he goes out fighting to try to save Lambert, and the Hawaii 5-0 episode, "King of the Hill," where he has to carry so many scenes as a soldier with PTSD.

    My three questions:

    1) When Live and Let Die was made, "blaxploitation" was popular. The film seems to have both a blaxploitation figure -- bombastic urban drug lord Mr. Big -- and a reaction to it -- erudite Kananga, a villain as capable and sophisticated as any Bond has fought. Did Mr. Kotto have a preference for either role, and if so, did he let that preference influence his performance as either character?

    2) Is there any other role in the James Bond films Mr. Kotto would like to play or have played?

    3) It's been reported that Mr. Kotto was considered for the role of Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek. If he'd taken the role, how might he have approached it differently than Patrick Stewart did?

    Thanks!
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,044MI6 Agent
    Congratulations Barbel, another amazing interview choice! -{

    Does Mr Kotto still watch Bond films? If so, what does he think of the direction which the films have taken?

    Does he have any anecdotes he can share with us about the making of LALD with Sir Roger?
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    I've to be contacted on Tuesday to set up the call.
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,579MI6 Agent
    edited September 2019
    This is another great coup from Barbel! :)

    My questions:

    1. Could you tell us more about the "James Bond" lifestyle you lived in the wake of Live and Let Die being released?

    2. Dr Kananga is unique among the Bond villains in that he is the prime minister of the island of San Monique. Did you wonder about the background of your character from what was written in the script to enhance your performance?

    3. There is a certain amount of faking of the occult in Live and Let Die. Do you think the audience is meant to accept that voodoo is real or just a charade for Dr Kananga to hold sway over the island population?
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    Thank you, SM. I don't mind admitting that I'm a little excited about talking with Mr Kotto on the phone. I was a teenager when I first saw him in LALD, then a few years later I enjoyed his performance in Alien-- two films I've watched many, many times. Obviously I've seen him in many other movies too (eg The Running Man, Raid On Entebbe (as Idi Amin), Across 110th Street). I hope I don't come across as too much of a fanboy, and I hope my Scottish accent doesn't throw him! :)
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,522MI6 Agent
    If it’s not too late, could you ask if he has kept any items from the LALD production, and if so, what?
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
  • Tilly Masterson 007Tilly Masterson 007 UKPosts: 1,474MI6 Agent
    My question for Yaphet is:

    Do you still sign a lot of autographs for your fan to this day?
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    I finally managed to talk with Yaphet Kotto about an hour ago. He was in Manila and on a tight schedule, and there were technical problems with the call which meant I couldn't get all our questions in. He did say he might manage another call sometime, which I hope transpires.

    I do have to say that it was a total pleasure to speak with Mr Kotto. He was an absolute gentleman despite the technical problems.




    Firstly, I’d like to say on behalf of our members that we are honoured that you would agree to talk with us. You are an iconic figure and beloved by many.

    Thank you. I love talking about that movie. Where are you calling from?

    From Scotland- I hope you understand my accent.

    Yeah, no problem. Scotland, it’s so green, it’s beautiful- God’s own country.

    When it’s not raining.

    Yeah, Scotland, Ireland, you’re so lucky. It’s the home of golf, do you play?

    No, but I have friends who do.

    Ah, okay.


    Before you accepted the part of Mr Big/Dr Kananga, you'd naturally have read the script. Had you perhaps read the Ian Fleming book as well?

    No, I didn’t read either. What happened was, I was shooting Across 110th Street with Anthony Quinn, when a man called David Picker, who was the Vice-President of United Artists walked up to me in the street and asked if I would like the part. I accepted, script unseen.


    I’d be interested to know what you thought about acting as Mr Big behind the prosthetics - how did you find the experience? Did it hinder or help your ability to portray Mr Big, and how long did you have to spend in the make up?

    I didn’t like it, but it was comfortable!


    Live and Let Die was Roger Moore’s first appearance as Bond, how do you feel about Roger’s performance over the seven films he did and the legacy he leaves behind?

    Roger did his thing, and he was very good at it.


    How confident did you feel that the public would accept a new James Bond after Connery's long time in the role?

    There’s only one James Bond and that’s Sean Connery. I saw all of them. Even now, at any age he’s still James Bond.


    Do you still watch Bond films? If so, what do you think of the direction which the films have taken?

    I watched all of Roger’s, and no more.
    I’d make changes to the franchise, they take too long between movies. And it’s insane to talk about a black James Bond or a female James Bond- he’s a white man.


    From Scotland!

    (Laughing) Yeah, that’s right!


    I've always been intrigued by your fighting style with the knife against Bond, it's very elegant, is it based on any particular style or choreographed purely to look good on screen?

    I came up with that myself. Thank you for saying it was elegant! My aunt had a dance school in New York, where James Dean and Marlon Brando attended.


    How did you feel about your underwater fight with Sir Roger at the end of LALD, as I've read that you couldn't swim? I think that shows huge courage.

    I can swim! I’ve been able to swim since I was three!


    Were there any real sharks present when you personally filmed?

    Not in that film, but there were in an earlier film I made. We shot part of it on the set, and part in a tank.


    What was your reaction, when watching Kananga's death scene for the first time at the premiere of LALD?

    It was laughable. I tried to persuade the producers to consider doing it again.


    Did you keep any items from LALD and if so what?

    I’ve got one of the suits, and a couple of keepsakes.


    Do you still sign a lot of autographs for your fans to this day?

    All the time! Mainly because of Alien.


    ...and that's as far as we got. My thanks to everyone for their questions, and apologies if yours didn't get asked, and above all a huge thank you to Mr Yaphet Kotto.
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,579MI6 Agent
    That's great, Barbel. I'm a big fan of Yaphet Kotto's performance as Dr Kananga/Mr Big in LALD and have enjoyed him in a variety of other roles. I think he played one of the best and cleverest villains in the series and it's so nice of him to do this interview for us. I enjoyed reading his answers. A massive thank you to you both for making this possible for the members of AJB. :) -{
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,554MI6 Agent
    Thank you Barbel! What an incredible man! By coincidence, I caught LALD on TV last night and ended up watching it from beginning to end (I was already sleepy but fought it off!). Mr Kotto’s responses add a dimension to my viewing experience that is unique to whatever written sources exist, at least in the combination of aspects he covered.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • Sir Hillary BraySir Hillary Bray College of ArmsPosts: 2,171MI6 Agent
    You're the best, Barbel. Thanks so much! {[]
    Hilly...you old devil!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    {[] another fantastic interview. -{
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • ToTheRightToTheRight Posts: 313MI6 Agent
    That was a great interview!
  • JoshuaJoshua Posts: 963MI6 Agent
    I have really enjoyed reading this interview. I hope more will be heard from Mr Kotto. It does take a black man to say that James Bond should not be played by a black man! I also agree with him that he should never become a woman!
  • JoshuaJoshua Posts: 963MI6 Agent
    I am inspired to watch my 'Live And Let Die' DVD this weekend!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,814Chief of Staff
    Thank you, guys.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,555MI6 Agent
    Great interview! now I can say I've sort of/one step removed have interviewed Yaphet Kotto :007)
  • hehadlotsofgutshehadlotsofguts Durham England Posts: 2,075MI6 Agent
    Thanks for a great interview,Barbel. I'll admit Kananga's death looks silly. It is a reflection on the type of film tbat they were going for, i suppose.

    I liked his anecdote about his fighting style, during the fight with Bond.

    Thanks Yaphet for being a good sport and taking tge time to talk to us all.
    Have you ever heard of the Emancipation Proclamation?"

    " I don't listen to hip hop!"
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