R.I.P. Anton Yelchin

The beginning of this week brings us shocking and very sad news for the film community. Anton Yelchin, a young actor who’d already made a notable mark and had a very promising career ahead of him, died on Sunday in what appears to have been a freak accident.

Best known for playing Chekov in the ‘Star Trek’ reboot franchise, Yelchin started as a child actor with appearances in movies such as ’15 Minutes’ and ‘Along Came a Spider’. He even had a leading role opposite Anthony Hopkins in the Stephen King adaptation ‘Hearts in Atlantis’. Unfortunately, that film was not very successful at the box office. Later, Yelchin made his first big impression as a doomed teenager in ‘Alpha Dog‘, and followed that with a recurring part in the Showtime series ‘Huff’.

Of course, Yelchin’s career really took off when J.J. Abrams cast him to play Pavel Chekov in the 2009 ‘Star Trek‘ reboot, where the character was reimagined as a young whiz-kid. Yelchin’s endearing performance stole numerous scenes away from his more prominently billed cast members. That same year, the actor took over the role of Kyle Reese in another (though less successful) franchise reboot, ‘Terminator Salvation‘.

More recently, Yelchin starred in one of the most acclaimed indie films of this year, playing the leader of a punk band accosted by Neo-Nazis in the thriller ‘Green Room‘. He also completed filming on the third ‘Trek’ feature, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, which is scheduled for release on July 22nd.

According to news reports, the actor was killed at his home on Sunday morning when his vehicle rolled down a steep driveway and pinned him against a brick mailbox and security gate. His body was discovered by friends who came to look for him when he didn’t show up for a planned rehearsal. Although it is not known why he got out of the vehicle, police officials state that there were no obvious suspicious circumstances at the scene.

Anton Yelchin was just 27-years-old.

[Source: Los Angeles Times]

20 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    I wonder if they will rewrite the next Star Trek movie to include his character’s death (and in turn, a tribute), or will they wait until the next Start Trek film to address his death. I hope they don’t just change actors without acknowledging his passing.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The movie’s scheduled to be released next month. It’s far too late to make a big change like that. However, I expect that a title card will be added dedicating the film to him.

      The character will either be recast or written out in the next movie, assuming that Paramount elects to continue the Abramsverse series with this cast. If Star Trek Beyond bombs, the studio may decide to reboot the franchise again anyway.

      • NJScorpio

        Do we know if the story for Star Trek Beyond would be a good stopping point for the Abramsverse? I’d like the character’s death to be part of the next movie, as opposed to the crew gathering and saying, “You heard about Chekov [between the two films]? Yeah, that stinks.” Perhaps a look alike/stunt double, and some tasteful CGI could give us a simple death scene to give the character some closure.

        Now and then I’m impressed by what directors can pull off in relation to deceased actors and incomplete roles, though I didn’t realize S.T.B. was so soon to released.

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          I think it would perhaps be better to just say that he was promoted and transferred to another ship/station. Then the character could still be brought back somewhere down the line with a new actor.

          It seems to me to be poor taste to CGI the actor’s likeness into a new movie just to kill him off. This isn’t a Furious 7 situation, where the actor died partway through filming and the movie couldn’t be completed without dealing with that.

          • NJScorpio

            Things did look a bit…creepy…at the end of Furious 7. While just a line like, “He got transferred” would feel like a disservice to the character/actor, you are right CGI’ing him into the film just to kill him off feels disrespectful .

          • Scott

            They replaced Dumbledor in HP when Harris died. They did it the correct way: you simply have a new actor. No need for explanations.

          • William Henley

            Well so many things changed between the second and third movie, it was easy to accept. New director meant changes to the way the movie looked and felt. Flitwick, even though played by the same actor, looked like he dropped 100 years in age, no explanation given. The look of the grounds changed a LOT, and in my opinion, for the better. The students, outside of class, wore casual street clothes (the only time I recall this in the previous movies was when they were either outside of school grounds or on holiday break. Then there was the overall tone of the movie.

            With all those changes, accepting a new actor was easy to do.

            The funny thing is, with as much as things changed between the second and third movies (and the changes kept until the end of the series), you still easily accept that both are the same world and same place and same characters.

        • The previous two movies were self-contained enough that they could have been stopping points, while still leaving things open for a new entry in the series. A good movie should do that.

          While a lot of die-hard Trekkies are screaming bloody murder about the Abramsverse, the movies seem to do well, and are attracting new (and younger) fans (sci-fi for some reason is currently a big hit with girls from preteens to mid 20s). Truthfully, I enjoy seeing these films, but they aren’t really “Star Trek” to me (I could accept them if they didn’t have things like instantanious warp and transporter beams that would beam you across the galaxy). While Star Trek’s “science” was out there, at least their “science” had rules and limitations that they pretty much kept with throughout all the series (except the animated) and the first 10 movies (okay, well, the first seven movies, things started getting out of hand after that in the movies – First Contact wasn’t too badly out there, but Insurrection and Nemesis…).

          Truthfully, I would like to see maybe a couple of movies with the Enterprise crew (I was thinking Voyager, but you would almost have to do a Star Trek: The Motion Picture thing where Janeway retakes command even though she’s an admiral and recall crew members). The Abramsverse is fun, but I would love to get back to some of the classic style of Star Trek.

          Luckily for me, there is a new series coming out soon.

  2. Chris B

    A good write-up about some very bad news. Yelchin was also great in the “Fright Night” remake that came out back in 2011 and easily bested the original.

    This really is awful to hear, I’m looking forward to seeing both Green Room and ST:B in theaters next month. Both viewings will have an unavoidable air of sadness hanging over them…

  3. Lord Bowler

    I thought for sure the news was confusing Yelchin with Keonig when I first heard it… Had to check multiple sources before believing it.

    I heard it was his Jeep Grand Cherokee, which might lead to a lawsuit since one source reported they were involved in a large recall recently regarding their gear-boxes. He must have thought it was in park and went to get the mail, or open the gate, when it rolled and pinned him. Or, it slipped out of Park into Neutral in which case there will be a major lawsuit.

    Odd Thomas has been on my netflix queue for awhile, heard some good reviews of that. Sad to see a young actor die in such a freak accident. Normally when a young actor dies it’s because of their own choices, Suicide or drugs. Who would have seen this coming?

    RIP.

  4. Csm101

    I’ve always enjoyed Yelchin’s work no matter what I’ve seen him in. A truly gifted and charismatic young actor taken way too soon.

  5. Deaditelord

    Wow, what terrible news. While I had not seen any of his early films, I thought Anton Yelchin had the potential to have a long, successful career based on how great he was in both Star Trek films. Thoughts and prayers to his family.

  6. Truly sad. Excellent young actor. ‘Club 27’ members are usually granted membership by drug abuse, or suicide. I think Anton is the first to join by accident. So very horrible.

  7. Such a terrible tragedy. Just a couple of weeks ago, I watched the season 2 episode of Criminal Minds where Yelchin guest starred, and I was reminded of what a talent he was. Every time I saw a him in a movie or TV episode, I truly enjoyed his performance, and I got the feeling he was on his way to become a huge star. It’s just so sad to see his life cut short, especially by a completely random accident like this.

  8. Thulsadoom

    I really liked Anton, in the few movies he’s been in. He and Karl Urban are the standouts in the new Trek, and he was great fun in Fright Night, and brilliant in Odd Thomas (His best, in my opinion). For all the film’s flaws, I thought he was great as the young Kyle in Terminator Salvation as well.

    I know it’s probably an odd thing to say, but if an actor is going to die tragically young, it’s good to see someone who didn’t die from drunk driving, a drug overdose or some other idiocy. It’s quite simply a tragic accident. There was a really nice piece on Dean Koontz’ website about him (http://www.deankoontz.com/anton-yelchin/), where he talks about meeting him when he was cast in Odd Thomas. Sounds like he was a really decent, down-to-earth young guy. It’s a real shame.

  9. EM

    I first encountered Yelchin’s work in the science-fiction miniseries Taken, which he must have worked on when 12–13 years old, and I’ve watched him in various projects since. His passing is all the sadder and stranger since I feel as though I have watched him grow up. I’m sorry this talent was “taken” so soon.

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