Pinned by his own car

Child actor and Star Trek star, 27, dies

Anton Yelchin (above) started out as a child actor. His breakthrough came in the 2009 Star Trek movie.
Anton Yelchin (above) started out as a child actor. His breakthrough came in the 2009 Star Trek movie. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Co-stars mourn Anton Yelchin's death on social media

NEW YORK • Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov, an excitable officer on the Starship Enterprise in the rebooted Star Trek movie series, died yesterday morning in Los Angeles, when he was pinned by his car in his driveway. He was 27.

Officer Jenny Houser of the Los Angeles Police Department said he died after being hit at around 1.10am at his home in the Studio City neighbourhood. The car had rolled backwards down the steep driveway and trapped him against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence. Ms Houser said he was found dead by friends who went to his house after he did not arrive at a scheduled rehearsal.

Yelchin was born on March 11, 1989, in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Russia, in what was then the Soviet Union, to Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, figure skaters who were superstars of the Leningrad Ice Ballet.

Six months later, the family fled to live in Los Angeles. That year, they left the Soviet Union, where the Yelchins, who are Jewish, faced political and religious oppression and feared for their son's safety.

As a child actor, Anton made memorable appearances on television shows such as ER, The Practice and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He was also in films such as Charlie Bartlett (2007), with Robert Downey Jr, in which he was a talkative student who appoints himself his school's therapist; and Alpha Dog (2006), in which he played an innocent boy who becomes a pawn in a drug war.

Anton Yelchin started out as a child actor. His breakthrough came in the 2009 Star Trek movie (above, extreme left). PHOTO: STARHUB

His breakthrough came in director J.J. Abrams' 2009 resuscitation of Star Trek, the science-fiction adventure franchise. Yelchin was cast as Pavel Chekov, the Russianborn Starfleet officer portrayed by Walter Koenig in the original television series and movies.

The character, as played by Yelchin, humorously navigated his way through high-pressure scenarios and had difficulty with the "V" sounds in "Victor" and "Vulcan".

Yelchin reprised the role in a 2013 sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and will be seen in a third film, Star Trek Beyond, to be released this year. He also had a recent role in the horror film Green Room (2015).

His co-stars mourned his death on social media.

In a post on Instagram, Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the new Star Trek movies, wrote that Yelchin was "one of the most open and intellectually curious people I have ever had the pleasure to know".

In a Twitter post, John Cho, who plays Sulu in the movies, called Yelchin "a true artist - curious, beautiful, courageous". He is survived by his parents. NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Child actor and Star Trek star, 27, dies'. Print Edition | Subscribe