Karl Urban Opens Up About ‘Star Trek’ Co-Star Anton Yelchin’s Tragic Death

When you’re a part of Star Trek, you enter into a new family that spans the galaxy and generations. That’s the feeling many of Anton Yelchin’s co-stars felt when he entered the franchise as Ensign Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 movie version of Star Trek.

Tragically, Yelchin didn’t live to see the 50th-anniversary tribute, Star Trek: Beyond, when it premiered at San Diego Comic-Con in the summer of 2016. It was another case of young talent gone way too soon, and a bright star extinguished in the prime of his life. Yelchin’s Star Trek co-star, Karl Urban, recently discussed his tragic death.

Actor Karl Urban in 2006
Star Trek actors John Cho (L), Anton Yelchin (C), and Karl Urban in 2008 | Jeffrey Mayer/Wireimage

Anton Yelchin died when his SUV crushed him

As The Daily Mail reports, Yelchin died on June 19, 2016, when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a brick mailbox and security fence. The vehicle rolled backward down the driveway before pinning the actor, crushing him, and suffocating him to death.

The vehicle in question had been recalled two months earlier for problems related to rolling away unexpectedly, steaming from issues with the gearbox. That very same problem robbed Hollywood of up-and-coming talent and a family of their bright son.

In 2018, the LA Times reported that Daimler Chrysler settled a lawsuit with Yelchin’s parents stemming from the accident. 

Aside from playing Chekov in three Star Trek movies, Yelchin starred opposite Sir Patrick Stewart in Green Room. Yelchin got his start on TV shows after his parents, both figure skating legends in Russia, enrolled the youngster in acting classes in America at age nine, notes The Guardian.

After a few TV shows, Yelchin quickly moved to movies starring alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, Christian Bale, Mel Gibson, and Felicity Jones as a teenager. As the titular Charlie Bartlett, the actor received critical acclaim.

Co-star Karl Urban said losing Anton Yelchin ‘really hurt’

Of the three Star Trek movies Karl Urban appeared in, he called the last one (Beyond) the best in terms of camaraderie on the set with his fellow actors. Urban recently sat down with GQ to discuss his most iconic roles, including playing Dr. Leonard McCoy in the Abramsverse of Star Trek.

But there was a Chekov-sized hole in the bridge this time. “We lost Anton, tragically, and that really hurt,” Urban explained. “[He] was such an amazing guy, so intelligent, and had such a massive future ahead of him.”

The Lord of the Rings actor also said how the “extraordinary” Yelchin planned to get into directing. 

Anton Yelchin wanted to direct as his career took off

The aspiring actor was one to never rest on his laurels. He intended to start working on Travis as the writer-director for an indie film starring Callum Turner, Alia Shawkat, and Milla Jovovich. Yelchin’s death came just three weeks before the start of that project, according to IndieWire. The film’s producers spoke to Yelchin on the day he died about the feel and look of the production.

Urban finished his tribute to his co-star by saying, “For us to lose him was a real tragedy.”

Based on the many tributes fans and colleagues paid to Yelchin, and for the entire Star Trek family, losing anyone of this magnitude leaves an Enterprise-shaped hole in our collective hearts. 

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