The Star Trek community is mourning the death Sunday of Anton Yelchin, the child actor who grew up to entertain fans as Pavel Chekov in three Trek movies. He was killed early Sunday morning at his home.
Yelchin was 27.
The actor, according to TMZ, was supposed to meet friends Saturday evening for rehearsal, but didn’t show up. The friends later traveled to his house to check on Yelchin, finding him pinned by his running car against a brick mailbox. The car was in neutral, and authorities were unclear why he got out of the car.
Police do not suspect foul play, according to the news outlet.
“All of us at Paramount join the world in mourning the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin,” Paramount Pictures, which produces the Star Trek films, said in a statement, according to Variety. “As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and will be missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and family.”
Anton Viktorovich Yelchin was born March 11, 1989, in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia. His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, were famous figure skaters — but all emigrated to the United States when Anton was still a baby.
He got his start on television — NBC’s popular series “ER” — in 2000 when he was just 10 years old, and soon after appeared in “Delivering Milo” with Bridget Fonda and Albert Finney as well as the Stephen King film “Hearts In Atlantis.” King called Yelchin a “crazily talented actor” on Twitter.
Terrible news about Anton Yelchin, crazily talented actor gone too soon.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) June 19, 2016
Yelchin would spend his teen years through a number of guest appearances on television including shows like “Judging Amy” and “The Practice” in 2002, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2004, and then appeared in the short-lived Showtime series “Huff” with Hank Azaria.
Azaria, who starred as the father to Yelchin’s character, posted a note on Twitter that he was “devastated” about the young actor’s passing.
“He was a very sweet kid,” Azaria said.
Devastated about Anton Yelchin. He was a very sweet kid. My heart goes out to his family
— Hank Azaria (@HankAzaria) June 19, 2016
In 2006, he was cast as Zack Mazursky in Nick Cassavetes’ drug kingpin drama “Alpha Dog.”
But it was in 2008 he would get his big break into Trek fandom when director J.J. Abrams cast him in his “Star Trek” reboot as Pavel Chekov, a role originated by Walter Koenig in the original “Star Trek” series. Yelchin worked hard to capture everything Koenig brought to the role that made it such a key part of the crew, while adding his own characterizations. That included changing “V” sounds to “W” sounds like Koenig did most famously in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
Yelchin appeared not only in the 2009 movie, but had his character moved to engineering temporarily in 2013’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” and also will appear in next month’s “Star Trek: Beyond,” the third movie in the so-called AbramsVerse.
Abrams, who does not use social media except to provide hand-written notes occasionally shared by his production shingle, Bad Robot, called Yelchin “brilliant,” “kind” and “funny,” adding “you weren’t here nearly long enough.”
— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) June 19, 2016
Yelchin was drawn to independent projects, and actually had a number in post-production including Mark Palansky’s Rememory that also starred Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” fame.
John Cho, who played alongside Yelchin in the Trek movies as Hikaru Sulu, struggled to express the pain he felt in losing a friend.
I loved Anton Yelchin so much. He was a true artist – curious, beautiful, courageous. He was a great pal and a great son. I'm in ruins.
— John Cho (@JohnTheCho) June 19, 2016
Justin Lin, who directed Yelchin in the upcoming “Beyond,” said it was his pleasure to know the young actor.
Still in shock. Rest in peace, Anton. Your passion and enthusiasm will live on with everyone that had the pleasure of knowing you.
— Justin Lin (@trailingjohnson) June 19, 2016
There is no word whether Yelchin’s sudden death will affect the release of “Star Trek: Beyond,” but it obviously casts a significant shadow over the upcoming film which also is reported to acknowledge the passing last year of Leonard Nimoy.