Actor Anton Yelchin of ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Alpha Dog’ Fame Dead at 27 [Updated]

Actor Anton Yelchin, who most will remember as Pavel Chekov from the rebooted Star Trek film franchise, was found dead early Sunday morning from what law officials are calling a “freak accident.” He was just 27 years old.

According to a report from TMZ, friends of the young star became concerned once Yelchin failed to show up at a planned rehearsal Saturday evening. After venturing to his San Fernando Valley home, he was discovered pinned between his car and a brick mailbox that was attached to a security gate. Police have stated that Yelchin’s car was in neutral at the time of the gruesome find, and that while they are unaware of the actual reason he chose to exit the automobile, no foul play is being suspected.

People claims that an autopsy is currently underway to definitively discover what led to his passing, but a preliminary examination uncovered massive head and chest injuries that were incurred from the incident. Furthermore, the medical examiner found that Yelchin’s vehicle, which was placed on a driveway with a steep incline, was not properly parked when it crashed into him.

Born in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now known as Saint Petersburg, Russia) on March 11, 1989, Yelchin began his acting career at age 9, and appeared in several films such as 2001’s Along Came A Spider, 2006’s Alpha Dog; where he portrayed a fictionalized version of real-life murder victim Nicholas Markowitz, and 2007’s Charlie Bartlett, alongside actors Robert Downey Jr. and Kat Dennings. In 2008, he was selected to play Chekov, the naive, yet brave crew member of the Starship Enterprise in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 big-screen adaptation of Star Trek. He would go on to reprise the role in both the 2013 follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, which is currently set to hit theaters on July 22, 2016.

In a 2014 interview with Collider, Yelchin relayed his excitement about a supposed Beyond cameo appearance from Star Trek alum William Shatner.

“If that is indeed true, William Shatner is one of the biggest icons in American pop culture,” he stated. “To be around him would be really incredible. He’s [the original] Captain Kirk. It would be like [working] with Leonard Nimoy, who’s also really incredible.”

While Nimoy and Yelchin did work together on the 2009 Star Trek movie, their characters never interacted; and any chance of rectifying that was ultimately extinguished in 2015, when Nimoy died from complications of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) at the age of 85.

Anton Yelchin dead Yelchin with the cast & crew of ‘Star Trek Beyond’ [Photo by Francois Nel / Staff / Getty Images]Many of Yelchin’s former co-stars and colleagues have been memorializing the young talent on social media following the news of his passing. Canadian actress Lauren Collins (Degrassi: The Next Generation) remembered her friend as being “one of the most brilliant actors working today,” while screenwriter Guillermo del Toro, who collaborated with the actor for a year on the animated Netflix series Trollhunters, said that Yelchin was “the sweetest, most humble, delightful, talented guy you’d ever meet.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” he added, making note of the mass of celebrity deaths that have occurred thus far, “2016 cannot end fast enough.”

Anton Yelchin dead [Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images]Director J.J. Abrams understandably could not relay his thoughts to just 140 characters, and in turn, posted a short, handwritten note to the actor through his production company’s Twitter profile.

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Along with Star Trek Beyond, Yelchin completed work on two other films this year: Porto and Thoroughbred, a thriller set to be released in 2017. A motion picture he worked on in 2014, We Don’t Belong Here, which also features former Saturday Night Live players Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon, is said to be coming out at some point in 2016.

He is survived by his parents, former figure skaters Viktor and Irina Korina Yelchin, and had no siblings. A rep for the actor gave no definitive statement other than to ask grieving fans to respect his family’s privacy at this time.

[Photo by Larry Busacca/Staff/Getty Images]