Anton Yelchin Won't Be Replaced In 'Star Trek 4' & It's A Fitting Tribute To The Actor

In an immense shock to fans of cinema and Star Trek, alike, beloved actor Anton Yelchin died following a tragic accident, aged just 27 at the start of June. Whilst touching tributes to Yelchin from friends and colleagues have continued since his tragic passing, there's been a further commemorative act which is truly moving. Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Star Trek Beyond producer J. J. Abrams confirmed that Yelchin won't be replaced in the next Star Trek film: "I would say there’s no replacing him. There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better."

The actor, who had recently received rave reviews for his incredible performance in the movie Green Room, was considered by many as being one of the most promising cinematic talents of his generation. As Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot movie franchise, the actor brought a formidable presence, performing the character with a terrific sense of comedy and an intelligence which highlighted his talent amongst a strong supporting cast. Whilst the decision not to recast the character of Chekov in the successful Star Trek film franchise seems clearly to be a respectful one, Abrams does highlight an important point about Yelchin by doing so.

The actor, though young, had proved himself to be a truly unique and focused talent throughout his career, and as such he truly is irreplaceable. Though many Hollywood actors can sometimes feel a little default or interchangeable, Yelchin felt like a true original, with performances which always felt meticulous in how specifically and freshly he approached the characters he portrayed.

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It was a sentiment shared by Abrams, who directed the actor in the first two Star Trek reboot movies and provided the following heartbreaking statement regarding Yelchin's death to Entertainment Weekly:

Anton was our little brother. But only by years; he was as wise and clever and intellectually curious as anyone we ever knew. His laugh was preposterous – you couldn’t hear it and not laugh yourself. He was funny, edgy, wild and talented beyond measure. His focus and dedication was admirable, as was his love of family, friends, literature and music. We loved Anton, at work or at play. We are all shocked and numb and devastated by the World’s loss of an extraordinary young man.

Just watching some of Yelchin's best performances from the past six years in diverse movies such as Only Lovers Left Alive and Like Crazy, it's easy to see all of these traits of the actor which Abrams notes about him. Yelchin had the sort of magnetic spirit on screen which made audiences feel as if they knew the characters he portrayed personally. His ability to bring characters to life felt like an intimate experience for him, as though we were watching a young man wrestling with, laughing at or exposing a true part of himself on screen. There were, and are, very few actors of the same age who have possessed the same vulnerability, personality, or wry humor on screen as Yelchin did.

When the young actor died, it was obviously a tremendous blow to the Star Trek universe, and as such of course there couldn't be another man who could take the role of Chekov. In turn, however, the loss was also a severe loss to film making — it's devastating to deal with the absence of Yelchin when you consider his versatility as an actor and all the potential characters he could have further portrayed but never will. He could be sensitive (Green Room), tough (Fright Night), heartbroken (Like Crazy), and a hero (Odd Thomas), and you never doubted him for a second.

So, Abrams is right when he says that Yelchin can't be replaced, because the actor was truly one-of-a-kind with shoes that nobody else could ever sufficiently fill. The loss of the young actor doesn't just impact on Star Trek, but on Hollywood as a whole — a talent like Yelchin is scarce in each generation, and we can search for someone just like him, but we'll never be able to replace him.

Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy; A24