When Paramount officially announced Star Trek 4 this week, one of the big question I had was if they would be recast the role of Ensign Pavel Chekov after the untimely death of actor Anton Yelchin. Well, we did not have to wait long for an answer.
I would say there’s no replacing him. There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.
That was a quote from Star Trek producer J.J. Abrams from an interview with the Toronto Sun. The interview is part of the publicity blitz for Friday’s Star Trek: Beyond, the latest film in the franchise and one where Yelchin’s Chekov has a sizable role.
Yelchin died on June 19 of this year during a freak automobile accident when his parked car rolled and pinned him against a wall. He was 27.
Yelchin’s death only adds to the somber tone of the upcoming Star Trek films, according to Abrams:
We knew going into this movie it would be a bit of a heartbreak just because of Leonard (Nimoy, the original Spock, who died as Star Trek beyond was in pre-production, and whose death is noted in the plot). We had no idea just how devastating events would become.
Abrams did not say how Chekov’s absence will be addressed in the franchise or if a new helmsman will be cast as a replacement. In the original series, Chekov first appeared in the second season, and there were a number of navigators in canon who appeared on the bridge before him. Perhaps one of those characters will reappear in the reboot universe, as the ship will need a navigator (if so, I put my vote in for Kevin Riley).