The recent death of 27-year-old Anton Yelchin left Star Trek fans reeling, both for the sake of the actor and what his loss means for the fate of his character, Pavel Chekov. With a fourth film a go, filmmakers have been considering that very question, revealed producer J.J. Abrams in an interview with Postmedia Network. While they don’t have everything worked out yet, they don’t plan to recast Chekov, the Toronto Sun reports.
“I would say there’s no replacing him,” said Abrams. “There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.”
The film is reportedly the biggest yet for Yelchin’s character as he teams up with Captain Kirk (played by Christopher Pine) to survive on an unknown planet after an attack by alien swarm. While recasting him would allow the character to continue to be developed, the idea clearly doesn’t sit well with the franchise’s filmmakers. At the same time, explaining Chekov’s absence offers yet another conundrum. When asked about the possibility of killing the navigator off, Abrams didn’t have an answer.
“I have thought about it, we’re working on it, and it’s too early to talk about it,” he said.
Deaths of actors mid-series have happened before and been handled in different ways in both TV and film. When Paul Walker died while Fast & Furious 7 was filming, for example, the film was redeveloped and finished in a way that allowed his character to be retired. Similarly, Heath Ledger’s character from the Dark Knight trilogy, The Joker, was not included in the third film after the actor’s death in the wake of the second. On the other hand, when Cory Monteith died between season of the Fox TV series Glee, an episode was written featuring his character’s death, allowing the show to pay tribute to him.
With Yelchin’s death having happened so recently, it’s understandable that Abrams and the creative team haven’t worked out exactly how to handle it yet. There’s still a lot to focus on in the meantime, too; Star Trek Beyond, which is directed by Justin Lin, hits theaters on July 22.