Star Trek Beyond cast members speak fondly of the Russian-born actor who played Pavel Chekov
On June 19, the unexpected death of 27-year-old Anton Yelchin, who played Enterprise navigator Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek sci-fi film series, devastated the cast and crew and shocked fans.
In a freak accident, he was pinned against a mailbox and a security fence after his Jeep Cherokee rolled down the driveway of his Studio City home in Los Angeles, the engine still running and the car in neutral when he was discovered at 1am.
He reportedly died of blunt traumatic asphyxia.
The Russian-born actor moved to the US as an infant with his figure skater parents and started acting from the age of nine.
Aside from the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek films, he was best known for his performances in Like Crazy, Terminator Salvation, Fright Night, The Beaver and Charlie Bartlett.
He had four films in post-production as well as an upcoming animated Netflix series.
TREKKIES: (From left) Idris Elba, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Lydia Wilson, director Justin Lin, Sofia Boutella, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine at the UK Premiere of Star Trek Beyond on July 12. PHOTO: REUTERS
In the press notes, he said this about reprising his role in Star Trek Beyond: "I'm grateful every day I'm on set. If I ever feel like I'm behaving in a less than grateful way, I'm deeply disappointed in myself because we are all so wildly fortunate to be doing this beautiful, lunatic thing.
"The amount of people and effort it takes to craft these images for someone to watch is madness and such a special thing to be a part of."
Abrams said he would not replace Chekov in future Star Trek films.
Star Trek Beyond, which opens here tomorrow, sees Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise encountering an alien warrior race when marooned on a distant planet after the destruction of their spaceship.ON THE BRIDGE: (from left) Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine and John Cho. PHOTO: UIP
US actor Pine shared a lot of scenes with Yelchin and said they laughed a lot together.
"We have scenes where I'm harping on him and he's harping on me, we're being shot at and things are exploding all around us. It's more fun than anything because there's such a great heart to Anton's character and to Anton himself."
Following Yelchin's death, Pine gathered all his colleagues at his home so they could mourn together.
"To experience mourning at such an intense level was really my kind of introduction to losing someone very close," said Pine.
"Anton was a very special, unique creature. He was a creative, fearless artist. He was a musician, he was going to direct his first film, he was a writer and a photographer.
"I would have been fascinated to see what this mind could do."
Taiwanese-American director Justin Lin, who takes over from Abrams for Star Trek Beyond, looked through Yelchin's takes with great sadness.
"I revisited them and they brought back a lot of great memories," said Lin.
"I've had the pleasure of working with him on this movie and he just did things the right way.
"He came in every morning with a smile on his face. Whether he had 10 lines or he's just in the background, he was always thinking and bringing in new ideas.
"Sometimes in this business, people get lost, but he never. He was always present and I think that will always stay with me. I'm grateful to have had that time with him."
US actress Zoe Saldana, who plays communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, admitted she is still "grieving" as the accident is "still very fresh".
She said: "I feel like we were able to dress up and come here to talk about Star Trek because he's a part of Star Trek and he loved it."
Equally emotional was US actor Zachary Quinto, who said "it doesn't feel possible that someone so talented, genuine, open and full of love could be taken away from us so senselessly".
New Zealand cast-member Karl Urban (chief medical officer Lieutenant Commander Leonard McCoy) found it "extraordinarily difficult to talk about Anton in the past tense".
"We are trying our best to remember and celebrate his amazing, extraordinary talent. He was one of those guys who was the most intelligent guy in the room but you wouldn't realise it. He was very humble with his intelligence."
CONTACT: (From left): Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah and Simon Pegg plays Scotty. PHOTO: UIP
English actor Simon Pegg (chief engineer Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott) echoed Urban's sentiments but felt it was fitting to soldier on with the promo tour.
He said: "The alternative was not speaking out for the film and allowing a film that starred our great friend to not be seen.
"We loved him very, very much. And we miss him very, very much."
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