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Two years ago, actor Anton Yelchin passed away due to a freak accident, just a month before the release of Star Trek: Beyond, in which the young actor played Pavel Chekov. Anton Yelchin's death cast a cloud over that underseen film, and there has not been a Star Trek movie since. Now it seems the franchise is gearing up to blast off once again, with a galaxy's worth of directions this film series could go in next. But continuing without a key member of the Star Trek family is going to be a challenge, as Montgomery Scott actor Simon Pegg explained:
With the increasing talk of Star Trek 4 of late, the cast will indeed have to face the reality of working without Anton Yelchin. As Simon Pegg tells The Quietus, they will be doing more Star Trek films, but the idea of doing so without the actor, who would have been 29 this year, is difficult to fathom. Anton Yelchin's death occurred right before the release of Star Trek: Beyond, so that film was already in the can. Star Trek 4 will be the first time that the crew of the Enterprise has to work together without the scene-stealing actor.
You can tell how much genuine friendship there is among the cast of these films, and going back to work without such a bright presence has to be strange and sad. This cast has worked together for three blockbuster films and all the press obligations that go with them, so it is natural that a bond would have formed. Going on after such a loss is bound to be difficult, as it is with loss in all walks of life.
Hopefully Star Trek 4 gives the studio and the cast an opportunity to honor the late actor and his character. J.J. Abrams has already said that they have no intention of recasting the role of Pavel Chekov, and that seems like the right call. Chekov was a fun supporting character, but the series can continue on without him and still be Star Trek. The fourth film in this rebooted franchise will perhaps send Chekov off right with some lines of dialogue mentioning where the character is now, offering some meta-commentary tribute in the process.
The fact that there won't be Anton Yelchin's Pavel Chekov in it is one of the only things we know for sure about Star Trek 4. There are as many as three or more scripts currently in the works, with the huge elephant in the room being the possibility of a Quentin Tarantino-directed Star Trek film. I don't know if that is the right direction for this series, but whatever approach Star Trek takes next, hopefully it finds the level of success that Star Trek: Beyond deserved, but did not get. We'll keep you updated on where the Star Trek franchise boldly goes next.