Anton Yelchin has stepped up to take on the role of Pavel Chekov, the energetic and excitable Russian member of the Starship Enterprise crew in Star Trek. The role was originated by Walter Koenig in the classic series, who is much beloved by Trekkers despite the fact that everybody is generally aware that his Russian accent wasn’t the most accurate. But even though Yelchin is a Russian native himself, he still loves Koenig’s groundbreaking work.
“It’s miraculous and it shows you the greatness of Gene Rodenberry’s vision that they even had a Russian character on an American TV show in the middle of the Cold War,” Yelchin said. “It is more of a stereotype of a Russian person during the Cold War than an actual Russian person. I thought it was great, because it goes along with the camp of the whole series. I didn’t really find any of it grating. Sure, I picked up on things that I didn’t think were accurate, but given the choice of changing them or leaving them as is and using them, I went with using them. I think that’s what makes that character that character. I did adjust them slightly, because our film isn’t campy. Not to say that it’s not funny, but it’s not campy. “
Despite the changes he made, Yelchin has nothing but praise for Koenig. “I watched the original series quite a bit, and I really thought there was something so special about everything that Walter did and the decisions that he made and the natural joy that pervaded everything that he did. It came out in the accent, it came out in the physicality. I tried to adapt that to this interpretation of his character as much as possible. I didn’t want it to be an imitation, but I did want it to have that general spirit. He created such a great character, and it was really important for me to be able to capture that.”
Check out Koenig’s first episode of Star Trek in its entirety right here on Fancast.