Anton Yelchin, actor in ‘Star Trek’ films, dies in freak car accident at age 27
Actor Anton Yelchin, perhaps best known for his role in the new “Star Trek” films, died early Sunday after his vehicle rolled down his Studio City driveway and trapped the actor against a brick post, authorities confirmed.
Friends went to the 27-year-old actor’s gated hillside home shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, when he didn’t show up for a rehearsal as expected, L.A. police Officer Jenny Houser told The Times.
Authorities believe Yelchin’s vehicle rolled backward down the steep driveway, Houser said, pinning him against a brick column and security gate.
Investigators with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office concluded that Yelchin’s death was an accident caused by blunt traumatic asphyxia, Lt. Larry Dietz said. It appeared that Yelchin had not properly put his car in park, Dietz added.
Yelchin made his foray into acting in the 2001 film adaptation of Stephen King’s best seller, “Hearts in Atlantis.” Yelchin performed alongside Anthony Hopkins in the Scott Hicks-directed mystery drama.(Phil Bray / Castle Rock/ Village Roadshow)
In 2004, Yelchin co-starred in ‘House of D’ alongside Robin Williams. The comedy-drama written and directed by David Duchovny follows the life of Tom Warshaw (played by Yelchin), an American artist living in Paris.(Larry Watson / Lions Gate Films)
Yelchin played the title role in “Charlie Bartlett,” which won Best Feauture Film at Boulder International Film Festival in 2008. Yelchin starred alongside Robert Downey Jr. as a wealthy yet troubled high-schooler.(Ken Woroner / Associated Press)
Yelchin is pictured with co-stars Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban and John Cho in his best-known role playing Chekhov in the 2009 Star Trek reboot.(Industrial Light & Magic / Associated Press)
Yelchin starred alongside Christian Bale in “Terminator Salvation,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Yelchin played Kyle Reese.(Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.)
Anton Yelchin plays Jacob and Felicity Jones plays Anna in the 2011 romance “Like Crazy.” The Drake Doremus-directed film won nine film awards and received six nominations.rush.(Fred Hayes / Paramount Pictures)
Selena Barros, an investigator with the coroner’s office, said there were “no obvious suspicious circumstances involved.”
Former classmates and local media gathered Sunday afternoon outside Yelchin’s English-style three-bedroom home, which is partly shielded by mature trees and tucked below a winding hillside street above Ventura Boulevard.
The black metal gate that blocked the home’s sloping driveway appeared bent and damaged.
The publicist Jennifer Allen also confirmed Yelchin’s death and said the actor’s family has asked for privacy.
Yelchin was born March 11, 1989, in Russia, the only son of Viktor Yelchin and Irina Korina. His parents were celebrity figure skaters in the former Soviet Union, but when their son was six months old, they fled to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles.
“We were afraid for our son,” Viktor Yelchin told The Times in 1989. “It is a very bad situation over there. I would get angry, too--I’d say, ‘Why should we have to buy things on the black market? Why should we have to stand in line?’”
Yelchin’s parents initially shared an apartment with family but later moved to West Hollywood, an enclave of Russian emigres. His mother’s remarks in 1989 about her young son’s future proved prescient.
“Everyone here wants to make movies,” Irina Korina said. “A woman came up, saw Anton, and said, ‘He’s beautiful. He will be actor.’”
Yelchin began acting as a child, picking up roles on television shows and independent films. He starred in the 2007 crime thriller “Alpha Dog” and was in the teen comedy “Charlie Bartlett.”
But his biggest role to date was in the rebooted “Star Trek” films as the character Chekov. The third installment in the series, “Star Trek Beyond,” comes out in July.
While pursuing an acting career, he also attended a public magnet school in the San Fernando Valley, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, from 4th through 12th grade, according to two former classmates who paid tribute Sunday afternoon outside Yelchin’s home.
“He didn’t really like the business, but he loved acting,” said the former classmate who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Yelchin, he said, admired global cinema and valued intellectually stimulating discussions on politics and philosophy.
“It was not about celebrity. He was about acting,” the friend said.
Photos of leaders, stars and other notable figures who died in 2016.
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Actress and writer Carrie Fisher rose to global fame as the trailblazing intergalactic heroine Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise. She later established herself as an author and screenwriter with an acerbic comic flair. She was 60. Full obituary.(20th Century Fox)
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Ken Howard was president of SAG-AFTRA and an actor known for his role on TV’s ‘The White Shadow.’ He championed the merger of Hollywood’s two largest actors unions, which had a history of sparring. He was 71. Full obituary(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Phife Dawg, right, formed the trailblazing hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest in the late 1980s in New York with his childhood friend Q-Tip, left. He was 45. Full obituary(Los Angeles Times)
The former first lady’s devotion to her husband made her a formidable behind-the-scenes player in his administrations and one of the most influential presidential wives in modern times. She was 94. Full obituary(American Vantage Media )
Martin, second from right, with Paul McCartney, left, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon in 1963, produced nearly all the Beatles’ recordings, advising them on songwriting and arranging and capturing the vitality of their early performances in the studio. He was 90. Full obituary(Michael Ochs Archives )
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The Egyptian diplomat helped negotiate his country’s landmark peace deal with Israel but then clashed with the United States when he served a single term as U.N. secretary-general. He was 93. Full obituary(Marty Lederhandler / Associated Press)
The novelist’s 1960 masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird” brought her a Pulitzer Prize and a venerated place in American literature. She was 89. Full obituary(Donald Uhrbrock / PBS)
Supreme Court Justice Scalia was a fiery conservative who used a sharp intellect, barbed wit and a zeal for verbal combat to fight against the tide of modern liberalism. He was 79. Full obituary(Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group)
Pro-BMX biker Dave Mirra was one of the most decorated athletes in X Games history. He held the record for the most medals in history with 24. He was 41. Full obituary(Ed Reinke / Associated Press)
Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, was the source for a wealth of euphoric hits in the 1970s and early ‘80s, including ‘Shining Star,’ ‘September,’ and ‘Boogie Wonderland.’ He was 74. Full obituary(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)
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(Gijsbert Hanekroot / Redferns)
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The composer and former principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic was known for pushing music lovers and the music establishment to let go of the past and embrace new sounds, structures and textures. He was 90. Full obituary(Christophe Ena / Associated Press)
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Gordon helped revolutionize surfing with the creation of the foam surfboard. His polyurethane boards were lighter and easier to ride, making surfing accessible -- which helped popularize the sport globally. He was in his 70s. Full obituary(Charlie Neuman / San Diego Union-Tribune/ZUMA Press)
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Resisting the legacy of her famous father, crooner Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole was a singer in her own right. Known for her jazz and gospel-inflected voice, she sold more than 30 million albums and earned nine Grammy Awards over her four-decade career. She was 65. Full obituary(Los Angeles Times)
Drake Doremus, who directed Yelchin in the 2011 film “Like Crazy,” praised the late actor for his humor and charm and offered condolences to his family.
“Anton was one of a kind. Such an old soul who was one of the most sincere but also funniest people I have ever met,” Doremus said in a statement. “He taught me what being a humble and hard working artist is all about.”
Doremus added: “His laugh was the best sound in the world, it was so contagious and comforting. He was always up to something to make you laugh especially if you were getting frustrated or being too serious.”
Justin Lin, director of the “Star Trek Beyond,” due out next month, tweeted: “Still in shock. Rest in peace, Anton. Your passion and enthusiasm will live on with everyone that had the pleasure of knowing you.”
J.J. Abrams, who directed Yelchin in 2009’s “Star Trek” and 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” tweeted a photo of a handwritten note that reads: “You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell. And you weren’t here nearly long enough. Missing you, JJ.”
Times staff writer Tre’vell Anderson contributed to this report.
12:07 p.m.: This article was updated with more background.
11:35 a.m.: This article was updated with staff reporting.
This article was originally published with Associated Press reporting at 11 a.m.
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