Anton Yelchin will be the only Star Trek cast member not returning for Star Trek 4.
Star Trek: Beyond was a different angle for the current Star Trek franchise. It was a completely different idea that veered away from other ideas in the Trek canon. It was also a love letter to Leonard Nimoy, who passed away prior to the film’s release. His version of Spock was given a quiet sendoff as well in the film, a wonderful little send-off to a legend. Nimoy was 83 when he passed. A live long-lived. Yet a month before the film was released, Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin would also pass away, putting a damper on the film’s release.
Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov, was just 27 years old when he passed away. It was a freak accident too, adding to the already unfathomable tragedy of the event. His passing, coupled with the poor performance of Beyond, and the shift to streaming series on CBS All Access (and later Paramount+), seemingly ended the modern film franchise.
Yet, we now have news that Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Karl Urban will be returning to the film franchise. Now the new film has to carry a burden that the first two franchises never had to; how do you replace a key member of the cast?
Star Trek 4 should be a love letter to Anton Yelchin and Paval Chekov
Firstly, there should be no replacing Yelchin. I don’t mean to say that Yelchin was a perfect actor and no one should ever do the role again. No. Yelchin is a great actor, may even have been the best of the main crew, but it isn’t impossible to find someone to do good work. No, the seat should remain empty, so to speak, out of respect for his impact on the three prior movies. If there’s another reboot coming, or if Chekov has an opportunity to pop up in Strange New Worlds, do it.
Yet, as long as this specific film franchise continues, there should be no other Chekov.
This means that this film should be a love letter to not only Chekov the character, but Yelchin the actor. It’s going to be hard enough to not think of who’s missing as the movie plays, the least they could do is acknowledge the fact that Chekov/Yelchin can’t be there anymore.
Let this version of the character have a sendoff befitting him. Retire this version of Chekov, and bring back some other characters from the film to help fill the hole. It’d be nice to see Sofia Boutella and Alice Eve back as characters in this fourth film.
Maybe their return to the franchise can help the film move past the pain of not having such a beloved actor and character on the screen anymore.