‘Star Trek’ Remake Finds Its Chekov

'Alpha Dog' actor Anton Yelchin, just 18 years old, to take role.

The Enterprise now has a navigator. Anton Yelchin, best known for films like “Alpha Dog” and “Hearts in Atlantis,” will portray Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming feature-film reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise. Unlike Walter Koenig, who portrayed Chekov in the original series, Yelchin is Russian by birth, adding an extra dose of authenticity to the role.

As fans know, Chekov was the greenest member of the Enterprise crew, introduced in the show’s second season. Only 18 years old, Yelchin is certainly green when it comes to big-budget franchises, appearing mostly on TV in recent years, including Showtime’s “Huff.” He’s a great deal younger than Koenig was when he was cast (the original Chekov was in his 30s). Abrams’ casting of Yelchin continues his pattern of going younger with the cast. He recently introduced his new Spock at Comic-Con: “Heroes” star Zachary Quinto, who is five years younger than Leonard Nimoy was when he first portrayed the role (see ” ‘Star Trek Gets A ‘Hero’ To Play Spock” ).

The addition of Yelchin and Quinto to the film is just the tip of the iceberg (or dilithium crystal, if you prefer). Many key characters to the “Trek” franchise remain to be cast, most notably that of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Rumors of Matt Damon taking the role seemingly have little truth to them, if the actor is to be believed in recent interviews. So the mystery remains, who will helm J.J. Abrams’ Enterprise when “Star Trek” is reborn on December 25, 2008?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, while Abrams has chosen to bypass big names for Spock and Chekov, he is looking for high-profile actors to play the villain of the film as well as Kirk. As for recent reports that Abrams’ “Mission: Impossible III” collaborator Tom Cruise might be up for a cameo as Christopher Pike (the first captain of the Enterprise), those rumors remain just that, for now.

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