Actor Anton Yelchin, 27, who played Chekov in recent “Star Trek” movies, was killed in a freak accident early Sunday morning.
Yelchin stepped out of his car in the driveway of his Studio City home at around 1:10AM PT when the car slid backwards and pinned him against a brick pillar and a security fence, causing trauma that led to his death, said Jennifer Houser with the Los Angeles Police Department.
He began performing in the late 1990s, appearing in several television roles and the Hollywood films Along Came a Spider and Hearts in Atlantis (both 2001). His role as Jacob Clarke in the Steven Spielberg miniseries Taken was significant in furthering his career as a child actor. He later appeared on the television series Huff and starred in the films Terminator Salvation (2009), Charlie Bartlett (2007), Fright Night (2011), Like Crazy (2011) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). He appears in Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and will appear posthumously in Star Trek Beyond (2016).
Anton Viktorovich Yelchin was born March 11, 1989, in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, were pair figure skaters who were celebrities as stars of the Leningrad Ice Ballet for 15 years. His family is Jewish; in the USSR, they were subjected to religious and political oppression. Yelchin had said: “My grandparents suffered in ways I can’t even begin to understand under Stalin.”
Nationally, Yelchin’s parents were the third-ranked pair team; they thus qualified for the 1972 Winter Olympics, but were not permitted to participate by the Soviet authorities (Yelchin has said the reason was unclear: “I don’t exactly know what that was – because they were Jewish or because the KGB didn’t want them to travel”). His family moved to the United States in September 1989, when Anton was six months old, after receiving refugee status from the United States Department of State.
Yelchin’s mother worked as a figure skating choreographer and his father as a figure skating coach, having been Sasha Cohen’s first trainer. Yelchin’s uncle is the children’s author and painter Eugene Yelchin.
In an article published in the Los Angeles Times in December 1989, Yelchin’s mother stated “A woman came up, saw Anton, and said, ‘He’s beautiful. He will be actor.'” Yelchin had stated that he “wasn’t very good” at figure skating, his parents’ profession. He once played in a punk band named The Hammerheads, though the group has since disbanded. He enjoyed playing the guitar, having said that it gives him “a lot of fulfillment,” and was a fan of acoustic blues music. He attended the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies in Tarzana, California, and enrolled at the University of Southern California in fall 2007 to study film.
Yelchin began acting at the age of 9 in the independent film A Man is Mostly Water. His earliest roles include Jackson in A Time for Dancing, Milo in Delivering Milo, Tommy Warshaw in House of D, and Jacob Clarke in the miniseries Taken. \
Yelchin made a guest appearance as Stewart, Cheryl David’s cousin and a self-described magician (who only knows one card trick), in a season four episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and starred as Byrd Huffstodt, the 14-year-old son of Dr. Craig “Huff” Huffstodt (Hank Azaria), on the television series Huff, which ran from 2004 to 2006.
In 2006, he also had a role on an episode (“Tru Love”) of the series Law & Order: Criminal Intent, playing a boy who falls in love with his teacher.
Yelchin’s biggest film recognition came for the role of Bobby Garfield in Hearts in Atlantis (2001), for which he won Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor at the 2002 Young Artist Awards. He also appeared in the Criminal Minds episode “Sex, Birth & Death” as Nathan Harris, a boy who has fantasies about killing prostitutes.
Yelchin starred in Alpha Dog, a crime thriller that received an American release on January 12, 2007. In the film, he played Zack Mazursky, a character based on real-life kidnap and murder victim Nicholas Markowitz. USA Today’s review described the performance as “heartbreakingly endearing”. After the premiere, Markowitz’s mother praised his portrayal of her son. Yelchin subsequently headlined Fierce People, a drama which received a limited release on September 7 of that year and co-starred Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland and Chris Evans.
In 2008 Yelchin played the title role in Charlie Bartlett, a film about a wealthy teenager in a public high school. Also that year, Yelchin appeared alongside the Russian duo t.A.T.u. in the movie You and I (which was filmed in Moscow during the summer of 2007), and co-starred with Susan Sarandon and Justin Chatwin in Middle of Nowhere. He next starred in two May 2009 releases: the eleventh Star Trek film, in which he portrayed 17-year-old navigator Pavel Chekov, and Terminator Salvation, in which he was cast as a teenage Kyle Reese.
In 2011, Yelchin portrayed Charley Brewster in the remake of Fright Night, directed by Craig Gillespie, s
tarred in the romantic drama Like Crazy, and voiced Clumsy Smurf in the film adaptation of The Smurfs and its sequel. He provided the voice for the Albino Pirate character in the animated film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (released in North America as The Pirates! Band of Misfits) (2012).
He reprised the role of Chekov in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016), and played the lead in the thriller Odd Thomas.
He was set to voice the role of Jim in Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters.