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‘Roots’ Co-Star LeVar Burton & ‘An Officer And A Gentleman’ Director Taylor Hackford Pay Tribute To Louis Gossett Jr. As Hollywood Remembers Late Actor

On the passing yesterday of actor Louis Gossett Jr., An Officer and A Gentleman director Taylor Hackford and Roots co-star LeVar Burton remembered their late colleague and friend.

“One of the best to ever do it!,” Burton posted on X/Twitter. “Thank you, Lou… for everything!”

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In a statement to Deadline, Hackford said:

“The role of Master Sargent Foley in An Officer and A Gentlemen was written as a white man. When I visited the Navy Officers Flight Training Center in Pensacola, FLA, I discovered that many of the Drill Instructors there were men of color. I found it interesting that Black & Brown enlisted men had ‘make-or-break’ control over whether white college graduates would become officers and fighter pilots.

“At that moment I changed the casting profile for Sergeant Foley and started meeting actors of color. Lou Gossett came to see me – I knew and admired his stage work. He told me that he’d served in the US Army as a Ranger, so in addition to being an accomplished actor, he knew military life – I hired him on the spot.

“Lou Gossett’s Sergeant Foley may have been the first Black character in American cinema to have absolute authority over white characters. The Academy recognized his consummate performance by voting him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He definitely deserved it.” -Taylor Hackford

Also paying tribute to Gossett today was his longtime friend, the singer Dionne Warwick, who said in a statement, “Another dear one has made his transition. Lou was set to play the role of my grandfather in the proposed feature film of my life. I will miss my friend and send heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Gossett’s The Color Purple co-star Colman Domingo posted on X/Twitter a portrait photo he took of Gossett, writing, “Was able to capture my ‘dad’ the legendary Louis Gossett Jr. He was open and generous. Kind beyond measure. Regal. We owe so much to him.”

The Color Purple‘s Fantasia Barrino and David Alan Grier also penned remembrances to the late Oscar winner.

On Instagram, Barrino wrote next to a photo of Gossett, “what an Awesome Man you were and the stories you told us, I’ll never ever forget.”

She included images and videos of Gossett on the set of the 2023 film, adding in her caption, “You left behind so many tokens for us and paved the way for Black Actors and Actresses. You will be missed, but Man did you Live a Blessed Life,” concluding, “#WeLoveYouForever.”

“Rest in peace Lou Gossett Jr. one of my fave acting heroes,” Grier wrote. “Hung out with him years ago at the Toronto film festival…I bailed at 2 AM as he bid me good evening and strolled down the street with a girl on each arm. I saw him at breakfast the next morning lookin fresh as a daisy he winked at me n said “You couldn’t hang, could you?” My man!!!!!!”

Deadline will update this post periodically with additional tributes.

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