An­ton Yelchin

As the world mourns the young Chekov, SFX re­mem­bers an ac­tor taken long be­fore his time

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

This year con­tin­ues its ex­tra­or­di­nary tally of tak­ing the great and the good away from us by adding 27-year-old An­ton Yelchin to its list – just one month be­fore the re­lease of Star Trek Be­yond, the third film in the fran­chise that made his name.

As the teenage nav­i­ga­tor on the USS En­ter­prise, Yelchin stepped into the shoes of Star Trek’s orig­i­nal Pavel Chekov, Wal­ter Koenig, in 2009 and brought a wide-eyed won­der to the bridge. His charis­matic per­for­mance – not to men­tion his out­ra­geously en­thu­si­as­tic Rus­sian ac­cent – made him a fan favourite and helped to bring him to the at­ten­tion of Hol­ly­wood. Although, given that Yelchin had been act­ing since the age of nine and ap­peared in Ter­mi­na­tor: Sal­va­tion as Kyle Reese, no less, in the same year as Star Trek was re­leased, he was al­ready a ris­ing star.

Yelchin was born in 1989 in what was then Len­ingrad and is now St Peters­burg, mov­ing to the United States when he was six months old with his par­ents, who were fig­ure skaters. When he didn’t show much in­cli­na­tion to fol­low in their foot­steps on the ice, they sent him to act­ing classes and he started get­ting parts in tele­vi­sion shows such as ER and Curb Your En­thu­si­asm. His first big sci-fi role was in Steven Spiel­berg’s Taken minis­eries in 2002, and large parts in Fright Night, the bril­liant Odd Thomas and ex­cel­lent in­die vam­pire film Only Lovers Left Alive kept him on SFX’s radar. He also wowed crit­ics in vi­o­lent drama Green Room in May, along­side Pa­trick Ste­wart.

Yelchin was in his drive­way when his Jeep rolled back­wards down the slope, crush­ing him. A known fault in the ve­hi­cle’s gearshift, which hadn’t prompted a re­call from Jeep, is be­ing blamed and a $5m law­suit has been filed against the com­pany for other sus­pi­cious deaths.

The ac­tor’s friends and col­leagues left many mov­ing tributes for him. “He was a lovely young man, a gen­tle­man,” said Spiel­berg, while Zoe Sal­dana talked about Yelchin’s “beau­ti­ful spirit”. But JJ Abrams made col­lec­tive chins wob­ble when he said: “An­ton, you were bril­liant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely tal­ented. And you weren’t here nearly long enough.” We agree.

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