Anton Yelchin would have turned 28 years old today, March 11. Sadly, the talented young actor, and Star Trek's most-recent Chekov, died in a tragic accident on June 19, 2016, just weeks before the release of his third and final Trek adventure, Star Trek Beyond.
Today, in honor of Yelchin, we celebrate his life in words and pictures.
Yelchin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and moved with his figure-skater parents, Irina and Viktor Yelchin, to the United States when he was just six months old.
He was already one of Hollywood’s most-exciting young talents -- a screen natural -- when he signed on to play Pavel Chekov in Star Trek (2009), having logged film and television credits that included ER, Hearts in Atlantis, The Practice, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Alpha Dog, Huff and Charlie Bartlett.
Back in 2011, StarTrek.com spoke with Yelchin about playing the young Chekov and the likelihood that he'd be playing Chekov over the course of several films. Asked if he felt his version of Chekov served as a bridge to Walter Koenig's, Yelchin replied, "I don’t know if it builds to Walter’s Chekov, that if we make more films then suddenly it’ll totally become that guy. I just think that I tried to capture as close as possible all of the great qualities that Walter brought to his Chekov. So I hope there’s a continuity. I don’t know if it’s necessarily an evolution, but I hope there’s a continuity where you can say, 'Oh, yeah, I buy that person being that age.'”
Since playing Chekov in the first J.J. Abrams blockbuster, Yelchin had appeared in Terminator Salvation, The Beaver, Fright Night, Only Lovers Left Alive, Experimenter and Green Room, in which he co-starred with Patrick Stewart.
The premiere of Star Trek Beyond at Comic-Con in San Diego in July 2016 provided the opportunity for Yelchin's grieving fans, family and Star Trek colleagues to pay tribute to the fallen actor. His parents, Irina and Viktor, were in the crowd for the event, which featured pre-screening words of praise for Yelchin from J.J. Abrams and others, and a moment of silence. Also, the film's stars and behind-the-scenes figures wore specially-made black Starfleet delta badges throughout the proceedings, both on stage and during red carpet interviews.
Yelchin completed several film and television projects before his death, which have recently been released or are due for release in the near future. Among them are Trollhunters, We Don't Belong Here, SuperMansion, Porto, Rememory and Thoroughbred.
In addition to his work as an actor, Yelchin was an avid and talented photographer. Prime examples of his work were put on display late last year in the Anton Yelchin Photography Exhibit at the Other Gallery in Hollywood, California. The actor's Star Trek colleagues Chris Pine, John Cho and J.J. Abrams, as well as Demi Moore, Dakota and Elle Fanning, and Susan Sarandon were among those on hand for the exhibit's opening on November 5, 2016. Proceeds from the sales of prints are being donated to the Anton Yelchin Foundation, which supports programs devoted to "empowering children as well as students of filmmaking."