“Getting into character” as a method actor has an extra level of challenge when the plot of your movie includes encounters with extraterrestrials. Do you spend time begging to get into Area 51 or some secret Air Force base with the promise of helping those who let you in meet Sigourney Weaver? Or do the film’s producers only hire actors who have had close encounters – thus giving all of the good parts to Dan Aykroyd? Fortunately for the makers of the original Alien movie, they got both in Yaphet Kotto.
“I’ve never talked to anyone about it man, this is the first time. I’ve only told my wife, my rabbi, and a psychologist. This is the first time I’m talking about it.”
According to a new interview with Vice, the 77-year-old Kotto was well-prepared to play Parker, the chief engineer who eventually (spoiler alert – you REALLY haven’t seen the original Alien?) gets killed by the alien. He claims he’s been seeing 6-foot tall beings with “elongated heads” since he was nine and the visits, along with other strange experiences, occurred on a regular basis into adulthood.
“Every time I moved into a house, above it at some point, there would be a circle of what looked like smoke. I’d wonder where it came from because it sure as hell didn’t look like clouds. Those sightings continued for a good ten to 15 years. I’ve also had time loss. I have a big loss of time between some of these moments, and I’d often wonder if I was taken”
Kotto’s encounters weren’t limited to the U.S. – his most moving experience took place in the Philippines. It occurred after being told by his wife and others that they had seen a “a UFO as big as the Yankee Stadium turned upside down” followed by a circle of smoke.
“They were freaking out. Two or three nights later, I saw it. The thing blotted out the entire sky. The moon and everything, it was huge.”
Since Kotto says he’s never told anyone in the media before about his alien and UFO experiences, it didn’t play a part in helping get cast as Parker in Alien. However, it affected him during the shooting.
“Now, I’ll admit, there were things that I alone found on the set of Alien—the spaceship. That mechanism that Sigourney Weaver throws to put the Sulaco (fictional spacecraft) on automatic destruct. There were symbols there. Symbols that had nothing to do with the ship in the film and I kept finding these symbols. They were like Egyptian symbols and I started trying to decipher them, which I was able to do.”
Speaking of Sigourney Weaver, while it doesn’t come up in Kotto’s interview, the star of the movie said in an interview in 2011 that she believes in aliens too.
“I think there are extraterrestrial life forms in the cosmos. I think it’s more likely than not. The cosmos is a pretty big place.”
She also believes in conspiracies.
“I think there’s a department in our (the US) government which is exclusively dedicated to quashing reports about aliens. And that’s so unfair. It would be nice if we weren’t just able to read about it in the tabloids.”
Kotto feels the same way.
“The former Canadian defense minister Paul Hellyer came out and said America is playing around. He’s got some video tapes out there talking about a number of species that come here. He puts America down for not admitting the fact that aliens are a reality. That gave me a lot of comfort.”
Perhaps it’s time for Yaphet and Sigourney to get together again, this time to discuss real aliens.