After month of speculation and rumor the cast of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek prequel is taking shape. We already know that both Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy will be in the movie playing Mr. Spock at various ages and last weekend AICN dug up a casting sheet which seems to confirm they’ll be recasting younger actors to play just about all of the major ‘Star Trek’ original series characters. This isn’t just the Kirk and Spock show and now the first of those secondary Trek icons has been cast.

The Hollywood Reporter says Paramount has hired Russian-born actor Anton Yelchin to play a young version of Pavel Chekov. The character was of course, originally brought to life by Walter Koenig, who is not even a little bit Russian, putting on an outrageous, thick, Russian accent. What’s next? Will Scotty be played by a guy who’s actually Scottish?

If there was one member of the primary Trek cast who I’d have bet would be left out, Chekov would have been it. Not because he’s not important, he’s the ship’s navigator after all and Koenig has long been a major fan favorite. However, he’s easily the youngest member of the crew and was one of the last to become a permanent part of the cast in the original series. If this is a prequel about the first adventures of Kirk and Spock, it wouldn’t have been ridiculous from a continuity standpoint to leave him out and assume that Chekov simply hadn’t joined the ship yet.

That said, it’s great that he’ll be back. If Chekov is in the movie it’s a safe bet that everyone else will be there too. As for Anton Yelchin, the actor playing him, I had no idea he was even Russian. I saw him in Charlie Bartlett a few weeks ago, and even though the movie is sort of a mess he’s pretty damned good in it. He’s also really young, which again, makes perfect sense since Chekov is by far the ship’s youngest primary crewmember. He even looks a little like a lankier version of young Walter Koenig.. As long as he believes Russia was responsible for every significant human achievement in the past 500 years, he’ll be a perfect fit as Chekov.

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