The rising star – best known for playing Chekov in the new films – was found dead in his driveway early on Sunday morning
Anton Yelchin, a charismatic rising star best known for playing Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films, has died at the age of 27. He was killed in a traffic accident early on Sunday morning, his publicist, Jennifer Allen, confirmed.
Yelchin’s friends alerted police when he failed to turn up to a rehearsal scheduled to start on Saturday evening. They then discovered the actor in his driveway at around 1am. No other vehicles are thought to have been involved and the cause of death is being reported as accidental. Jenny Houser, a spokeswoman for the LAPD, told the Hollywood Reporter: “It appears he momentarily exited his car and it rolled backward, causing trauma that led to his death.”
Yelchin was an actor whose stock-in-trade was sweetness and even naiveté: his career began young, in small films and TV series, before he broke out in 2006 with crime thriller Alpha Dog and the following year as Robert Downey Jr’s troubled pupil in Charlie Bartlett. In 2011, he starred opposite Felicity Jones in Like Crazy, a transatlantic romance that won both audience and jury awards at the Sundance film festival, as well as playing Mel Gibson’s son in Jodie Foster’s The Beaver.
But it was as mathematical brainbox Pavel Chekov in the new set of Star Trek films that Yelchin first came to mainstream attention. In JJ Abrams’ critically and commercially successful 2009 Star Trek, and the 2013 followup, the actor won acclaim for an innocence and humour that characterised many of his roles. A third film, Star Trek: Beyond, is due out in July.
Abrams posted a photo of a handwritten note via the Twitter account of his production company, Bad Robot. He paid tribute to Yelchin’s “kind … brilliant … funny” nature.
Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the franchise, said that they joined “the world in morning the untimely passing of Antony Yelchin. As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and he will missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and family.”
His Star Trek co-star, John Cho, tweeted that he was “in ruins” at the news of Yelchin’s death.
Despite his age, Yelchin had managed to carve out a career that balanced blockbusters with credible independent movies. Speaking to the Guardian in 2009 to promote the sci-fi movie Terminator Salvation, Yelchin said: “What I watch and what I work on are different.”
His own taste veered more towards the films of directors such as Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier and Pedro Almodovar, as well as Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch, in whose 2013 vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive Yelchin went on to take a role.
The star of that film, Tom Hiddleston, said he was “absolutely devastated” to hear the news of the death of “such a gifted, natural actor [and] a deeply kind man”.
An only child, Yelchin was born in Russia in 1989. His parents were professional figure skaters who moved the family to the United States when Yelchin was a baby. Yelchin’s family has requested privacy at this time.
Tributes to the actor began appearing on Twitter shortly after reports broke. Anna Kendrick called his death a “huge loss”, while Matt Lucas called it “dreadful news” and Kevin Smith described it as “so damn sad”.
Like Crazy director Drake Doremus has also shared his memories of working with Yelchin. “Anton was one of a kind,” he told Variety. “Such an old soul who was one of the most sincere but also funniest people I have ever met. Anton changed my life in so many ways and I’ll never forget him.”
Earlier this year, Yelchin won much acclaim for his role in ensemble horror Green Room, opposite Patrick Stewart and Imogen Poots. The film’s director, Jeremy Saulnier, described his lead as “such a dedicated, generous and hyper-smart young man”.
Amongst Yelchin’s upcoming projects was Baseballissimo, a sports comedy set in Italy during the second world war. Its writer and Yelchin’s co-star, Jay Baruchel, wrote of his shock and sadness over the sudden loss of someone he “call[ed] my friend for the better part of the last decade”.
Yelchin was also due to take a voice part in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming TV series Trollhunters. The director said the actor was “a great creative partner and artist”.
Among the other Hollywood stars who took to Twitter to pay tribute were Captain America actor Chris Evans, who said he was “devastated” by Yelchin’s death. He was joined by Spider-Man actor Dane DeHaan and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, who said he was “utterly heartbroken”.