JJ Abrams recently went on the record saying that there would be no Pavel Chekov character in the next Star Trek film since the young actor playing him — Anton Yelchin — died in a tragic accident last month.
According to Yahoo Movies, the director of the first two rebooted Star Trek films said there is “no replacing him.” He continued.
“There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.”
Not everyone is in agreement with JJ Abrams on the decision. While he brought up the Fast and Furious films and the loss of Paul Walker to prove his point, there is a sharp difference between the two situations.
— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) July 19, 2016
For starters, Walker originated his character in the franchise. Anton Yelchin did not. As Pavel Chekov, he was stepping in to take over for Walter Koenig, who couldn’t play the young ensign for age reasons.
Not replacing Chekov, for many fans, is not only marginalizing the performance of Koenig, it’s also stating that the character was more Anton’s than it was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s.
While most of the movie-loving world continues to mourn the loss of Anton, it is difficult to find agreement that Chekov is “his” character when he — Chekov — is actually someone else’s creation and vision.
Furthermore, while Yelchin had a significant role in the rebooted original series crew, his presence was not so critical that the part couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be recast.
A third young Russian actor could step into the role, and he would have the full blessing of most Star Trek fans because they a) love the Chekov character; and b) completely understand the difficult situation that Anton’s death presented.
Retiring the character due to a tragic and untimely accident is actually a disservice to Yelchin’s contribution because it essentially “blames” him for the removal of one of the franchise’s most beloved characters.
It’s doubtful in light of the numerous remembrances about the late 27-year-old’s character from family and friends that he would want to have that legacy thrust upon him.
In that regard, JJ Abrams’ decision to not replace him seems short-sighted and reactionary at best.
But for many Trekkers, that is no surprise. JJ Abrams never seemed to grasp what made Star Trek, Star Trek. His films, while fun, were rightfully criticized for being too much like Star Wars than the colorful and optimistic creation that Roddenberry brought to life so long ago.
The producer and director does not quite get the relationships that fans have to these classic characters, and that could pose a rather depressing dilemma for the next sequel, provided that Star Trek Beyond succeeds at the box office.
Of course, if Paramount is intent on not recasting Chekov, then there are ways around it that make sense. One commenter on the Yahoo Movies piece had this idea.
“Not meaning to show my nerd side too much,” the commenter wrote, “but in the original sequence of events, Chekov leaves the Enterprise to serve onboard the Reliant and is replaced by trainee Savik (played in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Kirstie Alley). Since we accelerated everything to get to the Khan scenario, why not use this as a way to say goodbye and introduce a new character at the same time?”
(Piggybacking onto this idea, it would also make recasting Chekov later on in a fifth or sixth film less jarring and disruptive.)
Another commenter pointed out that there is some precedent with removing Chekov altogether as seen in his alien replacement via Star Trek: The Animated Series.
But what do you think, readers?
A look back at the late Anton Yelchin’s movies https://t.co/F1fbGIqwmc
— ComingSoon.net (@comingsoonnet) July 20, 2016
Should Anton Yelchin be replaced, and is JJ Abrams wrong for suggesting otherwise? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Paramount]