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Anton Yelchin

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(written from a Production point of view)

Anton Viktorovich Yelchin (11 March 198919 June 2016; age 27) was a Russian-born actor from Southern California who played Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond. He also voiced Chekov in the 2013 Star Trek video game, and appeared as his character in an Xfinity commercial. [1] Yelchin took over the role from Walter Koenig, who portrayed the character on Star Trek: The Original Series and in seven feature films.

Yelchin was unsure exactly why he was cast in that particular role, though he figured it had to do with his young age and the fact that he was "familiar with Russian people. Very, very familiar." (His parents are Russian.) [2] During his audition, Yelchin had to try out his Russian accent, which included saying Chekov's famous line from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, "nuclear wessel". Yelchin was unfamiliar with Star Trek prior to his being cast as Chekov but planned on viewing the various DVD box sets to learn more about the franchise. [3]

Like the rest of the cast, Yelchin had signed on to do two additional Star Trek films when he took the role of Chekov. [4] The first of those films, Star Trek Into Darkness, was released in May 2013 and the second, Star Trek Beyond, was released in July 2016.

In 2009, Yelchin was part of the Star Trek ensemble which received a Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award nomination in the category Best Ensemble and won a Boston Society of Film Critics Award in the category Best Ensemble Cast. He shared these awards with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Ben Cross, Eric Bana, Clifton Collins, Jr., Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Morrison, Chris Hemsworth, Winona Ryder, Faran Tahir, and Tyler Perry. In 2010, Yelchin was part of the ensemble which received a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination in the category Best Acting Ensemble for Star Trek.

The 2013 virtual collectible card battle game Star Trek: Rivals used his pictures for card #79 "Ensign P. Chekhov" and card #95 "Acting Engineer P. Chekhov".

On 19 June 2016, Yelchin was killed outside of his home in Los Angeles when his car rolled down his driveway, pinning him against a security fence and brick mailbox pillar. [5] [6] [7] His death was ruled an accident as the result of "blunt traumatic asphyxia." [8] His 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee was subject to a recall. Fiat Chrysler will be investigating the circumstances behind his death. [9]

Directors J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin, as well as fellow cast members Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, John Cho and Sofia Boutella paid tribute to Yelchin on social media, while Karl Urban expressed horror at what had happened. [10] Abrams sent Entertainment Weekly a note signed by the "Star Trek Family", describing Yelchin as "our little brother. But only by years; he was as wise and clever and intellectually curious as anyone we ever knew." [11] Veterans of other Star Trek shows and films also paid tribute. [12] His character will reportedly not be recast. [13] His parents have filed a wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler in relation to Yelchin's death. [14]

Personal life Edit

Anton Yelchin was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) in Russia, then the second largest city of the Soviet Union. His parents were Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, both of whom were figure skaters known throughout the country. In September 1989, when Anton was only six months old, he and his parents emigrated to the United States. Because of their Jewish background, they received refugee status, owing to the long-term anti-Semitic policies of the Soviet State. (It is worth noting that Walter Koenig who created the role of Chekov, was also of Soviet Jewish parentage, although he himself was not born in the USSR, and they were from Lithuania rather than Russia proper.)

Yelchin attended the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies in Tarzana, California, and had begun acting by the age of nine. He enrolled at the University of Southern California in 2007 to study film. In addition to acting, Yelchin enjoyed playing the guitar. At the time of his death, he lived in Studio City, Los Angeles, California. [15]

Career Edit

2000-2003 Edit

His first television appearance came at the tender age of 11 in an episode of ER. His first films were the drama A Time for Dancing and the independent film A Man Is Mostly Water, both made in 2000, with the latter co-starring Star Trek: Enterprise guest star Chris Rydell. Yelchin and Scarlett Pomers both made featured appearances in the 2000 television movie Geppetto, which starred Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Rene Auberjonois and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Brent Spiner.

Yelchin played the title role in the comedy film Delivering Milo, about the spirit of a boy who must be convinced that life is worth being born for. Star Trek: Insurrection actor Michael Welch was among Yelchin's co-stars in this film, as was John Cho, whom Yelchin again worked with on Star Trek. In addition, Yelchin had a featured role in the film 15 Minutes, starring Avery Brooks, Kim Cattrall, and Kelsey Grammer. He also had a supporting role in the Paramount Pictures thriller Along Came a Spider. All of these films were released in the 2001.

Yelchin won a Young Spirit Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film by a Leading Young Actor for his work in the 2001 Stephen King-based drama Hearts in Atlantis. He received a second Young Artist Award nomination for his performance on the acclaimed television mini-series Taken (with Matt Frewer, Gwynyth Walsh, Rob LaBelle, and Brian Markinson).

In 2002, Yelchin had a two-episode recurring role on the legal drama The Practice, with Paul Dooley and Alan Dale playing judges. Yelchin was also seen on Judging Amy with Chris Sarandon. In 2003, he appeared in an episode of Without a Trace with Christopher McDonald. Enrique Murciano was a regular on this series.

2004-2007 Edit

Anton Yelchin and Walter Koenig

Yelchin with Walter Koenig, the original Pavel Chekov, on the set of Star Trek

From 2004 through 2006, Yelchin starred in the Showtime series Huff, playing the son of the title character. In addition, Yelchin earned a third Young Spirit Award nomination for his starring role in the 2004 television movie Jack. This latter project also featured the aforementioned Brent Spiner, as well as Erich Anderson. Yelchin's other television credits included guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm (2004, with Patrick Kerr), NYPD Blue (2004, with Gordon Clapp), and Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2006), which was developed by Rene Balcer.

Yelchin also continued making a name for himself in films, receiving notices for his starring roles in 2004's House of D (co-starring Willie Garson and Robin Williams) and 2006's Alpha Dog. He also starred in the drama Fierce People, which played at film festivals in 2005 and was released in theaters in September 2007. He then starred in the film Charlie Bartlett (2007), in which he played the title role, a wealthy teenager who appoints himself psychiatrist of his high school.

2008-2013 Edit

Star Trek was not the only iconic franchise that Yelchin became a part of in 2009. Released just two weeks after Star Trek was the fourth Terminator film, Terminator Salvation, in which Yelchin played a teenage Kyle Reese (the role originated by Michael Biehn in 1984's The Terminator).

In 2011, Yelchin starred in the acclaimed 2011 romantic drama Like Crazy, which also featured Amanda Carlin and for which he won the Spotlight Award at the Hollywood Film Festival and the Breakthrough Performer Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival. That same year, he starred in the remake of the 1985 cult horror film Fright Night as Charley Brewster, a teenager who believes his neighbor is a vampire. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest actor Chris Sarandon, who starred in the original Fright Night, made a cameo in the remake; Michael De Luca, writer of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold", was one of the film's producers.

Yelchin was the voice of Clumsy Smurf in the 2011 film version of The Smurfs and its 2013 sequel, The Smurfs 2. The first Smurfs film also featured the voices of John Kassir and Frank Welker. Also in 2013, Yelchin was seen in Jim Jarmusch's acclaimed vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive and in the leading role of the thriller Odd Thomas.

2014-2016 Edit

Yelchin acted alongside Frank Langella in the romantic comedy 5 to 7 (2014) and the neo-noir dramedy The Driftless Area (2015) and worked with his Star Trek co-star Winona Ryder in the biographical drama Experimenter (2015), the latter of which had Kellan Lutz portraying William Shatner. Yelchin also appeared in Rudderless (2014) with Jennifer Savidge, Burying the Ex (2014) with Dick Miller, and Broken Horses (2015) with Eric Sharp and Steve Luna.

Most recently, Yelchin starred opposite Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart in Jeremy Saulnier's critically-acclaimed horror-thriller Green Room (2016). In that film, Yelchin portrays a bassist whose band is hunted down by a gang of skinheads led by Stewart's character.

In addition to Star Trek Beyond, Yelchin had a number of other projects awaiting release at the time of his death, including the sci-fi drama Rememory and the family drama We Don't Belong Here. It was also announced just days prior to his death that he, Kelsey Grammer, and Ron Perlman were the voices of the main characters in Guillermo del Toro's animated Netflix series Trollhunters, set to premiere in December 2016. [16]

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