Yelchin Talks Chekov and Trek

Anton Yelchin is currently doing the rounds promoting his upcoming film Charlie Bartlett, but it seems all interviewers want to talk about is role as Pavel Chekov in JJ Abrams new Star Trek. Back when the young actor landed the role he admitted that he was not familiar with Star Trek or Chekov, but now he seems well versed and opines on both at length…even calling the character "the weirdest guy." See below for his thoughts on both and more.


Below are excerpts from interviews with Yelchin from IGN, CanMag and SuperHeroFlix.

On the scale of the new movie and Enterprise

We were shooting a scene yesterday and you really just realize how epic it is. That word is so overused but it really is pretty epic. You just sit there and you’re like, ‘God damn, I’m on the Enterprise.’ Would I ever have thought that I’d be on the Enterprise? No. It’s pretty great. It’s a pretty different experience though.

On Chekov and TOS

Chekov is the weirdest guy. Watching the old show really makes you realize just how strange, how incredible it was that they brought, first of all, a Russian character on right smack in the middle of the cold war. There’s one scene where they’re talking to Apollo or something, or the god that used to be Apollo in the old show. Apollo’s like, ‘I am Apollo!’ and Chekov is like, ‘And I am the czar of all Russias.’…I really think the old show for what it was is really a great, great show. I watch it and really enjoy it. It’s so perfectly cheesy and B, and absolutely unapologetic for it and I think that’s what works. They shot this thing where they walk up to a cave that looks like it’s made out of Styrofoam and Spock says, ‘Oh, this is definitely advanced technology.’ You’re like, ‘Yes, yes, that is advanced technology.’ But it’s really fun. It’s a fun show to watch.

On his accent:

I think it’s pretty good. I mean, it’s great. No, I mean it’s good. The thing is about Walter Koenig was his accent was interesting. I think I’m just going to leave it at interesting. And it was sort of like, all of us had to make the choice of what we wanted to take from the original one and what we sort of wanted to bring to it. And there are certain things that I took from him. Like, the fact that he replaced every "v" with a "w," which is weird. Like, I don’t really know where that decision came from. But regardless, that’s a decision that he made. And I thought it was important to bring that to the character. So it was sort of like, I talked to [director] J.J. [Abrams] a lot about what he wanted. And his thing was, like, we’re not making something that’s supposed to be the old Star Trek. He’s making his own movie, but there is a bit of, like, I think people want to see what they love. And so we’re all sort of trying to find things that will remind people of the old characters. And so that’s been interesting sort of picking up little things.

On differences playing Chekov and Charlie Bartlett + mentions Star Trek will have a ‘battlefield’

[Star Trek] is totally different than anything I have worked on. It is difficult in certain ways. I could sit and talk about Charlie Bartlett for hours. Because I spent hours getting to know this guy. I know the back of my hand worse than I know Charlie Bartlett. You sit and you have a character whose head you can dig deep, deep, deep into. Then you have Star Trek. There are only so many levels to Pavel Chekov. But then, there is a certain fun to that as well. I have had an opportunity to sit and watch the old series. I have been able to find what I’d like to pick up on. It is weird being on a set where a lot of the actors, myself included, have no idea what a turbine engine is. Or what it might do when it explodes. You are looking at a green screen that is supposed to be a battlefield. But nothing is going on. It is fun. It really puts you into the frame of mind that you are making a movie. I had this feeling that I was on a big film. It is the old classic idea of what a film set is supposed to be. I have never had that opportunity. It is fun. Is very different. It is interesting. I do really love digging deep. I love getting to know a person so well. I think that is the most important thing. You have to know everything. From the way they walk to the way they talk. To the way they dress. That is all an extension of who they are. It is weird when you get onto a set, and that isn’t the case. No one asked me what I thought the Star Trek uniform should look like. Everything was planned out. But I had to find things in that sort of environment. That is very interesting. It is just cool and epic to be on that set. It is a lot of fun.

By the way, if you missed it, Anton jumped into the conversation from the Bridge of the Enterprise here on TrekMovie.com. Asking a fan question on what his big ‘wow’ moment was he said:

For me, it was extraordinary to spend my last shooting day on the enterprise. it really struck me just how epic it all was…AND WILL BE.

Will we hear Chekov scream?
What we really want to know…will the movie keep the Chekov tradition of being the one to get the most abuse. Short of the red shirts (as the video below shows), Chekov seems to always be the one to take the brunt of things on Star Trek.

 

Charlie Bartlett, starring Anton Yelchin opens in the US on February 22nd. More info at IMDB, Trailer below.

 

More from Yelchin can be found at interviews with IGN, CanMag and SuperheroFlix
 

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Like, a really cool kid ;)

Honestly, he’s a cutie. But I never expected Chekov to have a rel big appearance *G*

Please god, no replacing Vs with Ws… as any Russian speaker (like Yelchin) knows, in real Russian there is actually NO W sound and English loanwords with W are transliterated with V…so in other words exactly the opposite of what Koenig, bless him, did.

This clown has no respect for Koenig. And he looks like the floating space baby from 2001. Fire him, JJ.

#2 – agreed. There is no “w” sound in Russian. The Vs can take on a very slight rounded tinge (at least to English-speakers’ ears) when they come before a back vowel, like U or O, but that’s very slight, and certainly not every speaker does it. Koenig’s version was (and I’ll agree with Yelchin here) … interesting.

Battlefields and exploding turbines? Sounds… fun.

Jeez, this guy sure likes to ramble.. and he sure likes “like” ;)

Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar

It won’t really be a Trek movie unless at some point Chekov howls in pain for one reason or another.

TMP- Plasma burned hand -EEEEEEEOOOOOOOWWWW

TWOK – Hungry Trilobite bores through ear and brain – EEEEEEEOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

TVH – Falls of 20 ft pier – EEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW

New Trek- Sulu gets a little too friendly when he sneaks into Chekov’s quarters after hours – WOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUCH !!!!

Say Nuclear Wessels.

No!

I definitely see a young checkov in that kid

seems like bit of a punk kid who doesnt really understand what a great thing hes now involved with. seems like he still doesnt really get star trek or how high quality and important tos was especially back in the 60’s. oh well, but im sure he’ll do ok for his probably not too large part in the movie. at least he seems like an ok actor.hopfully he will learn to respect star trek and Mr. Koenig more and not to say stupid things to the press.

Silly as Koenig’s accent may have been, in a way it wouldn’t be Chekov if he didn’t have that funky way of pronouncing things. I mean, the nuclear wessels! Classic! Anyway, give Yelchin a break, he may not be a Trekkie but he sounds like he takes his acting seriously.

Great Futurama gag #8! I still laugh at that one.

He’s cute and has a good sense of humor. :lol: I think he’ll make an…interesting…Chekov. ;) I think he’ll be good at it!

P.S. Though I must admit, it’s weird seeing him done by a guy several years younger than I am!

LOL, Garth!! *ROFL!!*

But seriously, the Character Chekov is a real clown, and for that reason, I feel strongly that this kid will do very well! :D

Cheesy and B? He better take that back. Unless he meant cheesy and bacony, then ok. The Tellarites were kinda bacony. But cheesy? No way!

Except for the Horta…sorta. Actually, she was more lasagna-y. Pizza-y, maybe.

You never saw cheese on Star Trek. Green poultry and ginger roots but never cheese!

Dammit!

Anyway. I don’t mind this kid so much. He’s a good actor.

Walter Koenig wasn’t a Trek fan when he was cast as Chekov either.

And girl6, the single cell thingys in Operation: Annihilate! were sort of cheesy. Or eggy.

Like and Like then Like oh and like and then like I like something like wow like. God I hate that word! And stop blabering on! I realy don’t LIKE this kid. There we go kid LIKE used as it was intended, not to fill in space in a sentence!

JimJ (transplanted Hawkeye in Huskerland)

Frankly, I think people are being a little tough on the guy. in some ways he sounds like he is in awe, in other ways, he’s kind of a realist (saying TOS is now kind of cheesy). I’m a TOS purist and nothing beats the REAL Star Trek, BUT…

I admire that he did his homework and watched episodes, remembering things like Apollo and basically what Checkov’s reaction was to him. To me, that is respect for the character.

# 3 – That was a little over the top. Sounded like you were just trying to be rude for the hell of it.

#10 – “seems like he still doesnt really get star trek”

Umm okay? And how exactly did you derive that from his comment?

“or how high quality and important tos was especially back in the 60’s?”

Important? Yes. High Quality? Well….

Looks like all the ladies are Yelchin fans and the guys say he’s a clown! Haha

Seems to be an honest, just who he is, says it like it strikes him, kid.

Makes me a feel a bit old.

#3 and #10, lighten up! I’m sorry to tell you, but a lot of TOS was pretty damn cheesy. That’s part of the reason I love it!

personally, I would rather have a perfect Russian accent than a Koenig knockoff. Koenig’s Russian accent is so wrong it has to be insulting to Russian speakers.

canon schmanon

“Looks like all the ladies are Yelchin fans and the guys say he’s a clown! Haha”

That is kind of funny. Guys have a tendency to get defensive when they see someone younger, better looking and more successful than them.

Of course Koenig’s Russian wasn’t spot on. He wasn’t from Russia. Doohan’s Scottish wasn’t exactly spot on either.

Doesn’t really matter, b/c accents can get a bit muddled the more you move around and the more people with different accents you interact with. I’ve known many people who move from the northeast to the south and heard them develop thick southern accents. I’ve also seen people move from the south with thick accents and it becomes less pronounced over time. When I moved around in the Army and interacted with people from all over the world, I’m not sure what kind of accent I started to develop, but it was different that everyone back home.

Personally I think he’ll do fine.

…and I don’t think Koenig every really became a Star Trek fan.

let me explain what i was driving at. I think that he seems like a fine actor an im sure he will do good in the movie for that reason.an he seems like a nice enough guy in general. i dont hate him or want to bag him because hes not the biggest Trek fan ever. Again ‘im sure he’ll do fine in the movie’ i just felt that he dosnt fully respect what star trek is yet. in a certain kind of way that is.an i found it a little disapointing. yes TOS has some cheezy lines an so on but for its time…well look at other tv shows back then an even most movies. an anyway TOS can get away with it because of its over all quality in the ideas of the stories an well so on an on i dont wanna get going on forever explaining the good things about tos and star trek in general.i asume u all know anyway. but well basically i thought its easy to tell he hasnt grown up with trek and is very new to it an understanding it an also hes new to big movies. the thing that he said that i actually was most put of by was that he seemed to think acting in star trek didnt require the same amount of character exploration an empathy as some small film. i just disagree with that on many levels. but anyway i dont hate him, he’s a good… Read more »

Yelchin seems to have a good sense of humor, which I think is key with Chekov.

I loved this line:

“They shot this thing where they walk up to a cave that looks like it’s made out of Styrofoam and Spock says, ‘Oh, this is definitely advanced technology.’ You’re like, ‘Yes, yes, that is advanced technology.’”

I’m of two minds on the “w” thing…on the one hand, it makes no sense as far as an actually Russian accent goes…on the other hand, it just seems like it’s part of who Chekov was…(a man who apparently couldn’t pronounce his own first name…Pa-wel…)

It’s an interesting challenge for these actors to be asked to make each role their own, but also choose aspects from the original actors to incorporate. I think he’s right to include Chekov’s v’s and w’s as it quickly became how he was identified. That and the fact that he had the uncanny ability to relate anything and EVERYTHING to Russian history. If our script-writers have provided the moment for that ability’s return (or introduction), more power to them because that could easily feel forced and out of date right now…

…but it would be awesome… “Sir! Doze savages! Prisoners in Russia ver forced to play Russian Roulette vile dare guardz vatched dem! Dis Nero is a bad man!”…

Ahh. Another young actor who has no idea what fame has in store for him down the line, Trekwise. They always start out this way.
After his first few cons, he’ll START to understand.

Isn’t anyone going to point out that the “W’ for “V” sound thing was intentional on Koenig’s part? It was a common thing among his family, who had emigrated from (I think) the Ukraine.

Yelchin will be fine.

#26 Kevin —
You make a good point about accents — yes, there is a lot of variety, especially when people interact with lots of other people speaking other accents.

The thing that makes Chekov (and Scotty) cringe-worthy isn’t a muddling of accents, it’s the fact that their muddling has miraculously produced extremely familiar and classically stereotypical “Hollywood” accents. ;)

And I’m fine with Yelchin. I think he has the right attitude.

he like doesnt like ya know really like respect the old like ya know star trek or Koenig for like being the 1st like chekov ya know, like maybe he needs to like stop doing ya know like interviews that like ya know make him sound like a frickin like iliterate teenage like dumbass.

The Guardian of Forever

It’s not cheesy D:

Okay, so compared to modern television it might come across as cheesy to your average civilian who doesn’t practically breathe TOS, but… it’s not cheesy.

Except maybe the Gorn.

He seems nice enough, even if he talks about TOS the way I talk about the 60’s Batman show … sounds like he takes the work seriously, tho’, and that’s all that’s really necessary. He seems interesting.

I think I’m just going to leave it at interesting. ;)

I just wanted to bring up a point,that Chekov wasnt on the show until the second season.but Kahn remembered seeing him in the first season episode Space seed.I wonder if the movie will clear any of this up.

“like”,”like”,”like”,”like”,”like”,”like”,
“old”,”old”,”old”,”old”,”old”,”old”.
Gosh, buy a dictionary! Learn a few words”

36..According to this article above we’re starting at zero soooooooooooooooo none of this has ever happened.I’m also hoping that if I become the purist of all purists and complain enough maybe JJ will invite me to be in the show to win me over too lol

If you think about it, TOS to him must seem about the same as silent movies. So TOS would seem pretty ancient to him. Obviously, being Russian, (right?) he’ll be able to do an authentic accent, and that’s great. But honestly, 99.9 percent of the people who originally watched TOS never noticed that Chekov’s or Scotty’s accents weren’t authentic.

HFRO was better , right?

JimJ (transplanted Hawkeye in Huskerland)

The Gorn is the best cheese around. I hated the one from “Enterprise”!

#36:

I’ll clear it up for you. See, to you and me, having the imprint of 432 Enterprise crewmen, along with every other person who had as much as glanced your way, would be way unreasonable-sounding. But Khan … he never forgot a face.

He was Total Recall back when Arnold was still in short pants.

Chekov was probably in urinal #1 on Deck 23 when Khan came in and went to urinal #6 (the furthest one away). Awkward I know, but that’s the word on the street.

27

Oh come on, we diehard fans REALLY need to get over ourselves sometimes. So freakin what if he thinks the show was a little cheesy.

I thought he gave a really fresh perspective on the whole experience, and the excitement and enthusiasm he has for the movie was GREAT to hear. Anyone who wasn’t cracking up while reading this interview is just taking themselves and Trek way too seriously, I think.

Personally I’d rather hear more of THIS kind of talk than the overly earnest and “actorly” talk we hear from guys like Quinto all the time. I love actors, but sometimes they can be a bit full of themselves. I don’t sense that with this kid at ALL, and it’s refreshing as hell.

39

Actually Craig Ferguson was joking on his show recently that, back in Scotland, Scotty was the only character on the show they COULDN’T understand.

“What the hell is he SAYING??” LOL

Guys, he’s 18 years old. Cut him some slack. I know 40 year olds that say ‘like’ every other word too. As for not respecting Koenig…huh? Think you’re reading into what he said a bit too much. The only thing you could possibly construe as a negative comment was with regard to the accent, which honestly was quite bad. I think even Koenig would admit that.

You can’t really expect a young kid born in ’89 to take Star Trek as seriously as someone who grew up with it. Plus, he may just not be a SciFi buff. Think of when they interview Hayden Panitierre about Heroes – she’s polite, but she’s not exactly enthused. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t do a great job with the material she’s given.

I think he’s got a healthy attitude, and I’m sure he’ll be a great Chekov. It’s not like any Trek production ever centered around that character anyway.

I knew some people were going to be a pile on this kid when he called Trek cheesy and showed he doesn’t take it as seriously as his religion or whatever…. Relax. He’s right. Trek is a crazy silly thing and some of the props and sets are a little below modern standards, but as a fan I can admit to it. Yet, it still speaks to me profoundly. Yelchin seems to be expressing the same opinion in his own way. Good for him.

I agree with #27. I’d rather read more off the cuff, call it like you see it interviews than the well rehearsed actorish responses that we’ve already heard time and again that tell us nothing new about these people.

Walter Koenig’s parents were from Russia, and lived for a time in Lithuania. Walter actually speaks Russian (I studied for years, and tried it out on him once at a con, and he slipped right in to it).

So the accent thing was made up for dramatic impact, or to attract Monkees-obsessed young girls. Just like Yelchin said, for his Chekhov, he chose to do the same.

Actually, I think there’s a fundamental difference between enjoying modern entertainment as opposed to something like Star Trek or Twilight Zone from the 60s. Less special effects meant that they had to be creative as a production unit, while at the same time, we as the audience had to use our imagination much more.

For instance, I can STILL watch Star Trek without once thinking “Oh, that’s just a styrofoam rock” or “that’s so obviously a soundstage, that’s not Tombstone” or “Nice diagnosis with those salt shakers, Bones.”

These days, most everything you can imagine can be reproduced in some fashion. There is no need to rely on visual trickery or even your own imagination as a viewer.

So I guess my point is, yeah, if you look at it on a surface level, sure it’s cheesy. But if you can get lost in it, the resulting experience is anything but.

As for the new Chekov’s seemingly flippant attitude: I was 18 once. I didn’t know everything either. But he seems to be more willing than some older, more experienced actors I could name to take Trek seriously when faced with the challenge.

Re: #11. rebecca and #26. Kevin I totally agree with you. Love that “nuclear wessels” scene in ST:IV. Most of us are not linguists or experts or even familiar with English spoken with a Russian accent. Personally, I’m not going to be watching the movie looking for screw-ups/mistakes etc. However, if all the characters are very different because they don’t want to imitate the originals, something will be lost. Hope they don’t make them too different. Hopefully Anton will research the Russian accent. (Didn’t read every post so forgive me if I duplicate anything.) Hah! Just “googled” his name and among all the things I found was this: “Anton Viktorovich Yelchin (Russian: Антон Викторович Ельчин; born March 11, 1989).” Hello – R-U-S-S-I-A-N ! ! ! He won’t have to go far to learn how to do an authentic Russian accent, now will he? More: “Yelchin was born in Leningrad, USSR (now Saint Petersburg, Russia), the son of Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, figure skaters who were national celebrities as stars of the Leningrad Ice Ballet for fifteen years… Yelchin’s family moved to the United States in September of 1989.” At least he has his own hair (he does, doesn’t he?). (Sorry, Walter.) Walter Koenig (for any non-TOS people, the original Chekov) is going to be 72 this coming September 14. Holy crap!! More on Walter Koenig: “Koenig (pronounced /keɪnɪg/) was born in Chicago, Illinois to Sarah Strauss and Isadore Koenig, a businessman. Koenig’s parents were Jewish immigrants *from Russia*; his… Read more »

Re: #47. AJ

Oops, sorry. Guess you posted yours while I was typing mine. :-|

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