Anton Yelchin, actor known for his role as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” movies, has died in an accident at the age of 27.
Anton Yelchin, actor known for his role as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” movies, has died in an accident at the age of 27, according to TMZ.
He was killed in a fatal car accident early Sunday morning, his publicist, Jennifer Allen confirmed.
Though Yelchin was just 18 when he filmed his role as the young Starfleet officer in the first of the “Star Trek” reboots, his acting career was already well underway, with early roles in television and independent films before his age was in double digits. His prominent films before “Star Trek” included “Hearts in Atlantis” and “Charlie Bartlett.”
Born March 11, 1989 in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia), Yelchin was the son of Russian figure skaters Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin. Though nationally ranked competitors with Olympic aspirations, they weren’t allowed to go to the 1972 Olympics, for reasons that were unclear but most likely political. As Jews in the USSR, they were subject to religious persecution, their papers mysteriously lost when an opportunity for international competition arose.
Six months after Yelchin’s birth, his parents received refugee status and escaped to the United States. Though they continued to work in the figure skating world, they supported their son as he discovered and nurtured an early love for acting.
By the time he was 12, Yelchin had appeared in an episode of “ER” and starred in his first film, playing Bridget Fonda’s son in the independent release “Being Milo.” He played key roles in “Hearts in Atlantis” and “Along Came a Spider,” both released in 2001. Television roles followed, including short arcs on “Taken: and “The Practice.”
An opportunity for a regular TV role arose in 2004, with the Showtime series “Huff.” Yelchin played the teenage son of the title character, played by Hank Azaria. He went on to star in the 2007 true crime film “Alpha Dog,” playing a fictionalized version of kidnapping and murder victim Nicholas Markowitz, and in the 2007 teen comedy “Charlie Bartlett,” playing a high schooler who finds popularity by dispensing advice and prescription drugs to classmates.
“Charlie Bartlett” was the beginning of a career surge that hit full stride with the 2009 release of “Star Trek,” in which Yelchin was wide-eyed and appealing as the 17-year-old “Russian whiz kid,” Chekov. Though he was playing a character associated with his native Russia, Yelchin didn’t quite use the accent of his ancestors. Instead, he reprised much of the “interesting” accent created by Walter Koenig, who originated the role of Chekov in the original series, as he told IGN in a 2008 interview. “Like, the fact that he replaced every ‘v’ with a ‘w,’ which is weird. Like, I don’t really know where that decision came from. But regardless, that’s a decision that he made.”
Yelchin would return to play Chekov again in the 2013 sequel, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” famously having fun with conventions from the original series in a scene when, having received a surprise promotion to chief of engineering, he’s told to put on a red shirt. In the 1960s series, that was the color worn by negligible characters who were as likely as not to be killed over the course of an episode. With the news that he would be promoted, Yelchin’s Chekov offered a slightly queasy look that referred as much to the red shirt trope as to the unexpected new role.
But before costarring in “Into Darkness,” Yelchin would take on other roles, including in the 2009 “Terminator” sequel “Terminator Salvation,” making that summer one of blockbusters for the young actor. In 2011, he played vampire fighter Charley Brewster in the remake of “Fright Night” and half of a long-distance relationship in “Like Crazy.” The later film, relying heavily on improvisation, harked back to Yelchin’s earliest acting classes, and he told the Boston Globe that he loved the exercise: “There was something about it that I just felt completely comfortable doing and happy doing.”
Yelchin’s recent thriller, “Green Room,” is still playing in some theaters. And he had performed in a number of movies that will be released posthumously, including the third “Star Trek” movie. “Star Trek Beyond” is set for a July 22 release, followed by other upcoming Yelchin films including “We Don’t Belong Here” and “Porto.”
In addition to his acting career, Yelchin was also a musician, forming the punk band the Hammerheads shortly after filming the first “Star Trek” installment. Of his musical career, he told Flaunt magazine that he liked to play music while between acting jobs: “I’ve been playing music because I love what I do so much, and acting is incredibly important to me – just the involvement in it, and the sort of mental and spiritual involvement in it – when it’s not there, I need to do something that at least sort of mirrors that. Music does that in a way.”Many colleagues of Yelchin paid their respects online.
J.J. Abrams (in a handwritten note): “Anton, you were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren’t here nearly long enough. Missing you…”
Anna Kendrick: “This is unreal. Anton Yelchin is such a talent. Such a huge loss.”
Olivia Wilde: “Anton Yelchin was a bright, brilliant talent, and a truly kind person. I was so taken by him, and won’t ever forget his sweet smile. RIP.”
Chris Evans: “Devastated to hear about the brilliant Anton Yelchin. He was thoughtful, kind, and gifted. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
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