With the tragic news on Sunday June 19th that Star Trek (2009) actor Anton Yelchin died at his home, we take a look at the young actor’s career and place in Star Trek.
Being a fan of the reboot franchise or hating it, it would be hard to find a fan who didn’t like or disagree with Yelchin’s casting as the young Pavel Chekov. As we all know the role was originally played by the cute faced Walter Koenig in the original Star Trek series’ second season. Chekov was a character conceived to tap into the Davey Jones and Beatles fan base, to give girls and young men an idol or pop star looking character. This mostly worked and Chekov became a permanent member of the Star Trek crew.
Despite mixed reviews of JJ Abrams 2009 Reboot of Star Trek, Yelchin was the perfect choice to play Chekov. Yelchin was born in Leningrad in 1989 to parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin and migrated to the US months later under a refugee status.
Failing to take to Figure Skating (his parents’ careers ), Anton turned to acting at a very young age, starting out in independent films in 2000. In 2002 he landed a role in a Spielberg produced miniseries Taken (2002). This role launched him quickly into television roles including Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000) and as a series regular on Huff (2004) alongside Hank Azaria .
In 2007 Yelchin landed a key role in the film Alpha Dog which launched his film career to a new level. It didn’t take long for him to find a role in 2009’s Star Trek as Chekov.
Yelchin had a unique look and growing up with Russian parents, the accent and language came to him very naturally. His young looks and boyish innocent face made him a perfect fit to play Chekov. He played the character with a sense of awe and nervous energy. A depiction that was very fitting to a young cadet thrown onto the bridge for his genius and skill.
Yelchin excelled in his acting career, he could carry himself as a small innocent looking boy or be an unexpected hero springing into action. A great role that shows his ability was as the lead character in Odd Thomas in 2013. In this role, he shone as the vulnerable seer of death while balancing it with a hero out to fight the supernatural.
Yelchin took to music from a young age and showcased his passion in 2014’s Rudderless, alongside Billy Crudup in a story about friendship and a love of music. Yelchin was once part of a Punk band named “The Hammerheads”.
On June 19th 2016, Anton Yelchin Died aged 27 when a fault in his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled into him and pinned him against a pillar in his own driveway. The accident was due to a fault in the car’s design, a model that was under recall. Yelchin was found by friends when he failed to show up to a film set on time. His death at only 27 continues the showbusiness curse and adds him to the infamous 27 Club, with members including James Dean, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.
Yelchin can be seen this summer in Star Trek Beyond, in what is now his last appearance as Pavel Chekov. Two more completed films are in post production starring Yelchin- “Porto” and “Thoroughbred“- and are due to be released later this year and in 2017.
Tributes to Anton Yelchin have been posted on many social media outlets. Many by Star Trek fans including him in the line up of big Star Trek names who have died over the years.
Yelchin was described by many as a kind and fun loving person. He was friendly and loved by many. Karl Urban (Bones) posted on Twitter and Instagram his love for Yelchin saying:
“Anton was such a beautiful , gentle soul . He sought out new life experience with an unabated passion . He was edgy , incredibly talented and beautifully knowledgeable. His smile was radiant and mischievous . Truly an old soul in a young man’s body . He was a loving son. My heart , thoughts and prayers are with Anton’s family. I’m devastated. Godspeed you gorgeous man .“
Written by Shane Collier for Star Trek Eire