Anton Vikotorovich Yelchin (Анто́н Ви́кторович Ельчи́н) has been confirmed dead, aged 27, by his publicist.
Yelchin was born in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1989. That same year, his family emigrated to the United States as political refugees, due to the oppression against their Jewish religion and race by the Communist government.
In 2009, Yelchin portrayed the Ensign Pavel Chekov in Star Trek (by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), based on the television series in-which Chekov was portrayed by Walter Koenig. In 2012, Yelchin reprised the role in Star Trek Into Darkness (Damon Lindelof), and is set to do so one last time in Star Trek Beyond (Simon Pegg and Doug Jung). Yelchin’s casting was due to Chekov being not only Russian, but the youngest character in the Star Trek ensemble, which made Yelchin highly-demanded. Yelchin’s audition involved reciting Koenig’s most famous Star Trek moment in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett), in-which Chekov pronounces “vessels” as “wessels”. Upon being cast, Yelchin researched the Chekov character through watching Star Trek episodes and the films based upon it. In an interview with the official Star Trek website, Yelchin said of his Chekov’s similarities with Koenig’s:
I don’t know if it builds to Walter’s Chekov, that if we make more films then suddenly it’ll totally become that guy. I just think that I tried to capture as close as possible all of the great qualities that Walter brought to his Chekov. So I hope there’s a continuity. I don’t know if it’s necessarily an evolution, but I hope there’s a continuity where you can say, ‘Oh, yeah, I buy that person being that age.’
Yelchin wasn’t allowed to read the Star Trek screenplay until a month before principal photography was due to begin. When visiting the Star Trek set, Koenig met with Yelchin, and the two discussed the Chekov role. Yelchin was keen to capture Chekov’s spirit as a romantic adventurer while remaining true to the Chekov character without imitating Koenig. Yelchin – whose natural accent is American – also mimicked Koenig’s exaggerated Russian accent, based on stereotypes from the period of the original 1960s Star Trek series.
Yelchin’s performance as Chekov in Star Trek was amongst the winners of the Boston Society of Film Critics’ award for Best Ensemble Cast.
Star Trek studio Paramount Pictures have released the following statement:
All of us at Paramount join the world in morning the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin. As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and he will be missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and family.