Even though Star Trek Beyond hasn't even debuted in theaters yet, producers have already received word that a fourth Star Trek film is a go. All good news, but one issue that immediately comes to the minds of Trekkies is how or if the role of Pavel Chekov will be filled. The sudden passing of Anton Yelchin raises the issue, and it's one with which Star Trek producers have already been grappling. As the production team is no doubt going into overdrive in creating a story for Star Trek 4, producer J.J. Abrams reveals that Chekov's fate has already been determined.
Star Trek Beyond Producer J.J. Abrams Dishes On Chekov's FateThe big Star Trek 4 question on everyone's mind at this point has to be whether Chekov will be written out of the franchise (i.e. killed off, married off, transferred off, etc.) or if another actor will be recast in Yelchin's place. In a recent interview with Toronto Sun, Abrams says that writers are already dealing with the loss in early script versions, but he adds that Chekov will definitely not be recast.
"I would say there's no replacing him. There's no recasting. I can't possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better," says Abrams.
Ironically, Anton received his greatest percentage of screen time in Star Trek Beyond. As an alien foe forces the Enterprise crew to abandon ship, everyone must relocate to a nearby planet, where Starfleet team members partner up, leading Chekov (Yelchin) to regroup with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine).
Abrams adds that Star Trek Beyond was already set in a bittersweet mood with the passing of famed Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, so the accidental demise of Anton Yelchin made production of the film that much more somber.
"We knew going into this movie it would be a bit of a heartbreak just because of Leonard (Nimoy, the original Spock, who died as Star Trek beyond was in pre-production, and whose death is noted in the plot)," says the Star Trek Beyond producer. "We had no idea just how devastating events would become."
Star Trek Beyond Cast On Moving On Without Anton Yelchin As ChekovThe producers of the rebooted Star Trek franchise aren't the only ones considering what it might mean to jump on board for a fourth Star Trek film without Yelchin in the company. New York Daily News gave the actors of Star Trek Beyond the opportunity to share their views on what the future of the franchise might be, considering the recent death of Anton. While everyone is still mourning the actor's loss, the show must go on, and questions must be answered regarding Yelchin's character, before that can happen.
"Obviously right now the idea of going on without Anton is inconceivable," says Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty asnd also co-wrote Star Trek Beyond. "But I'm certain that Paramount would want the story to go on and if so, we'd have to find a way and it certainly would not involve recasting that character. That can not happen."
While Pegg closely echoes Abrams' thoughts on the idea of recasting the Chekov character, the Star Trek Beyond director is still feeling emotionally raw so soon after Anton's passing and seems unable to even think about the issue.
"I'll be honest with you, I'm still processing," says director Justin Lin.
The most logical step would be to transfer Chekov to another Starfleet vessel, which would easily allow the character to transfer back to the Enterprise in the original series, as some fans place the rebooted franchise earlier on the Star Trek timeline. Of course, this is also an alternate timeline, so Star Trek 4 writers really do have a free hand as far as writing Chekov out of the story.
"It's very difficult to talk about the future at the moment because there would be such a gaping hole in it all," Simon Pegg adds, reflecting the rest of the cast's feelings.
Star Trek Beyond will see a July 22 theatrical premiere.
[Image by Paramount Pictures]