Anton Yelchin in 2015 (Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Anton Yelchin, known for roles in “Star Trek” and “Alpha Dog,” died early Sunday morning in a freak accident, a spokeswoman confirmed to Variety. He was 27.
“Actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a fatal traffic collision early this morning,” said a statement from his representative. “His family requests you respect their privacy at this time.”
The LAPD said he was pinned by his own car at his Studio City home. Friends apparently became concerned when Yelchin did not show up for a band performance. They found him at his home pinned between his car and a brick mailbox pillar.
“It appears he had exited his car and was behind it when the vehicle rolled down a steep driveway,” the LAPD said in a statement.
Police reportedly told TMZ that the engine was still running when he was found, and that his car was in neutral. It’s not clear why he got out of his car with the engine running.
His most prominent role was as Pavel Chekhov, the Russian ensign in the rebooted “Star Trek” film series. The most recent film in the franchise, “Star Trek Beyond,” debuts on July 22.
Paramount Pictures released a statement, saying, “All of us at Paramount join the world in morning the untimely passing of Antony Yelchin. As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and he will missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and family.”
Born in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union, Yelchin and his family emigrated to the United States when he was just six months old, seeking political asylum. His parents were both star figure skaters. He began acting at an early age, launching his professional career as a 9 year-old. He impressed critics and audiences with a series of prominent roles, holding his own against the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Robin Williams while playing shy or emotionally damaged kids in the likes of “House of D” and “Hearts in Atlantis.” For two seasons he co-starred opposite Hank Azaria in the Showtime series “Huff,” playing a precocious teenager whose life is upended by his father’s personal and professional crisis.
As a young adult, he justified that early acclaim, turning in mature, sensitively wrought performances as drug-peddling title character in “Charlie Bartlett” and as Jacob, a lovelorn college student in Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy.” In the Los Angeles Times, critic Kenneth Turan praised Yelchin’s work in “Like Crazy” as “fearless,” writing that he “…expertly delineates the core quietness of Jacob, his tangible seriousness and sincerity.”
Yelchin also brushed with mainstream success, appearing in “Terminator Salvation” and doing voice work on “The Smurfs” movies. Critics noted that his performance in “Odd Thomas,” based on the Dean Koontz book, was superior to the rest of the movie.
After news of Yelchin’s death broke Sunday, friends and co-stars reacted on Twitter and social media.
John Cho, who worked with Yelchin on “Star Trek,” tweeted, “I loved Anton Yelchin so much. He was a true artist – curious, beautiful, courageous. He was a great pal and a great son. I’m in ruins.”
And Kat Dennings added, “Anton Yelchin was one of my best friends. Can’t say anything that conveys what this feels like.”