The film industry, entertainment press, fans and audiences worldwide are still mourning the shocking death of actor Anton Yelchin. The promising young Green Room star, one of the most highly touted and well-reviewed actors of his generation, was tragically killed on Sunday June 19 in a freak car accident possibly caused by a malfunctioning parking break. The event left his friends and family devastated and his colleagues struggling to come to grips with a loss that defies all expectation.
Now, one such colleague is adding his voice to the chorus of those mourning the tragic loss. Actor Walter Koenig, best known for portraying Enterprise ensign Pavel Chekov on the original Star Trek series, came to know Yelchin when the young actor was tapped to become the new incarnation of the character in the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot of the franchise.
While the two actors did not become close friends, Koenig was none the less compelled to share his grief when reached for comment by THR:
“What I learned that day was how bright and sensitive he was. I walked away thinking — this is a good person. My heart goes out to his mother and father. I know what you’re going through.”
Remembered for his exaggerated Russian accent and unique interpretation of the English language, Koenig’s Chekov was one of the most talked-about characters on the original Star Trek. A Russian character presented as part of a spaceship crew representing a unified future Earth was a controversial statement to make in a 1960s TV landscape at the height of the Cold War. It was also one of the most explicit elements of creator Gene Roddenberry’s use of Star Trek as a way to visualize a globalized future he believed was attainable. While Yelchin’s version of the character did not carry the same geopolitical baggage, he retained Koenig’s iconic accent and place as an energetic younger crewmember; earning some of the best reviews of any actor in the rebooted films.
Yelchin’s death is described as still being “under investigation” by law enforcement officials. The late star will next be seen in his (now) final turn as Chekov in Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond, shooting of which was completed prior to his passing. His most recent film, the violent horror/siege feature Green Room, recently completed a successful and well-reviewed run as an independent theatrical release.
Star Trek Beyond will be in theaters on July 22, 2016.