Anton Yelchin: A Tragic "Star Trek" Icon Gone Too Soon

Herbie J Pilato

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[mcall.com]

With his role as the "new" Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise of 2009, Anton Yelchin was a former childhood star on the brink of superstardom.

But then tragedy struck.

As documented on BuzzFeed.com, Yelchin and his family left Russia and arrived in America when he only six months old. "His parents — Jewish pair figure skaters – settled into Los Angeles, where Yelchin soon became a child star in high-profile movies like 2001’s Along Came a Spider. He continued acting steadily into adulthood, exuding likable intelligence and empathy." His most well-known role was Chekhov from Trek, which was revived by J.J. Abrams.

But then, on June 18, 2016, as BuzzFeed.com continued to report, "Yelchin left his Jeep Cherokee parked on an incline and went to check his mailbox. The Jeep rolled down the incline, trapping him against a pillar and security gate. He died from blunt traumatic asphyxia. The model of Jeep Yelich owned was in the process of being recalled at the time of his death due to a confusing gear selector design that made it easy to confuse "neutral" with "park." His family sued Fiat Chrysler and later reached an out-of-court settlement."

According to Grunge.com and People Magazine, Yelchin was born on March 11, 1989, in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia. He had commenced his career with small parts in TV shows like ER and The Practice when he was only a child. He eventually graduated to more substantial projects, including a leading role in 2007's Charlie Bartlett.

Grunge.com further details how Yelchin soon landed his most high-profile part, bringing his own interpretation of Chekov to the Trek universe. As reported by the BBC, after Yelchin's demise, Abrams took to Twitter to remember the actor, tweeting "You were kind. You were funny as hell and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough."

As chronicled by Grunge.com, CBS News, the Associated Press, and USA Today, certain questions swiftly arose about Yelchin's vehicle, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Apparently, the 2014 and 2015 models of this car had been involved in numerous accidents as its "e-shift" feature made it hard for drivers to tell whether they had put their cars into park or not. Victor and Irina Yelchin, the devastated parents of the young thespian, pursued legal action against Fiat Chrysler, the company that manufactured the Jeep Grand Cherokee. "In spite of our unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families from the same tragedy," Victor Yelchin said. The Yelchins reached a settlement with the carmaker in 2018.

Grunge.com relayed how Yelchin's final appearance as Pavel Chekov was in 2016's Star Trek Beyond, which premiered not long after his fatal accident. He had several more movies that were released, posthumously, including the independent drama Thoroughbreds and the mystery We Don't Belong Here (both from 2017) Fans also got to see another side to the late performer. He had several posthumous exhibitions of his photography, including a show at the De Buck Gallery in New York City (via W magazine).

As revealed on his official website, Yelchin said that "I was drawn to photography as an extension of film, and the beauty of film is that it's a sensuous, fetishistic medium." A collection of his photography has been published as the 2019 book In Case of Fire.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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