It’s not that Anton Yelchin doesn’t want to talk about his role in the new Star Trek; it’s more that whatever the 19-year-old actor does say about playing Starship Enterprise navigator Pavel Chekov – and he’s obviously sworn to secrecy on any major disclosures – is likely to take on a existence of its own: life, Jim, but not as he knows it.
“The odd thing about Star Trek is you can reveal too much by not revealing anything at all,” he notes. “It’s nuts because the Star Trek fans pick everything apart that you say, like you’re revealing something super-top-secret. I partially can’t wait for this movie to come out so that they can just see it.”
What he can discuss a little is his take on playing Chekov, the role made famous by original Trek actor Walter Koenig. “I wasn’t a Trekkie at all,” he explains. “But I watched a ton of the old show and got what I wanted to get from Walter Koenig.”
“It’s different because it’s not like I’m creating this role. This role was already there and so you’re interpreting it. I wanted to bring something of mine to it and also wanted to take a lot from him, so the fans wouldn’t be like, ‘Where’s the Chekov that we’ve known for 30 years?’ He’s there but there’s also part of me in there too.”
In preparation, Yelchin actually met his predecessor, which provided some interesting background. “What I heard from Walter Koenig is that they had sort of a tense relationship, I guess, on set amongst that cast,” he relays. “He said there were almost like, cliques.” Which is in stark contrast to the current Enterprise crew, including our own Simon Pegg as engineer Scottie.
“I love the cast,” Yelchin enthuses. “We had a great time on set. I just got done but when we were shooting we had a great time, and then Simon [Pegg] came on and we had an even better time! It was really awesome.”
So which of the new actors did he find most reminiscent of their former incarnation? “I actually really think that about Zach Quinto,” he says. “He even looks like [Leonard] Nimoy! I think everyone’s going to be really delighted when they see him, he’s a great Spock.”
So what can we expect from the new Star Trek, particularly in relation to the previous version? Radical reworking? Faithful homage? “Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of the old stuff for everyone to be thrilled by,” Yelchin says equitably, “but there is going to be more action– it’s updated obviously, it’s 40 years since the original show – and J.J Abrams is making it. It’s going to be a pretty badass movie. But we’re remaining very respectful still, bringing things back from the original that will excite fans who’ve been fans forever.” That’s the challenge for Yelchin and Co. – to boldly go where some men have gone before, but in their own way.
The published article can be read on IGN – ‘Exclusive: Trek’s Chekov Talks’