J.J. Abrams, Karl Urban pay tribute to late actor Anton Yelchin

LOS ANGELES, July 18 (UPI) — Anton Yelchin is being remembered as a “special” person and “fantastic” actor in the wake of his death.

Star Trek Beyond producer J.J. Abrams and actor Karl Urban paid tribute to the late star in new interviews ahead of the film’s premiere this week. Yelchin died at age 27 on June 19.

“Because it is so unspeakably sad and insane and wrong that he is gone, I think that the way he is honored at the end of the movie, which is so simple and small, it literally feels like the perfect way,” Abrams told AZ Central.

“Because there are no words, there’s no process that any of us have found to understand this. It just feels like it’s a bit of a grace note. It felt appropriate,” he elaborated. “That kid was special and it really is impossible that he’s not here.”

Yelchin died after being discovered pinned between his Jeep and a brick pillar outside his home in Studio City, Calif. While his death was initially described as a “freak accident,” police are investigating whether his vehicle had a defective transmission.

“Yeah, it was [tough],” Urban said on Monday’s episode of the Today show. “We lost Anton Yelchin, who plays [Pavel] Chekov in the movie, in a tragic, tragic accident.

“Such a beautiful man,” the actor reflected. “It’s so difficult to think about him in the past. I’ll never forget his laugh. This movie’s a great testament to him. He’s fantastic in it.”

Yelchin’s parents, Irina and Victor Yelchin, thanked fans for their support in the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter. The couple took out a full-page ad featuring a photo of their late son.

“Thank you to all of you who have sent flowers and gifts, for your condolences and kind words and to all who came to celebrate the life of our dear son, Anton,” the pair wrote. “We are deeply grateful for your unconditional love for [him]. He would be surprised at how many hearts and souls he touched.

Yelchin played Chekov in the 2009 movie Star Trek and its 2013 sequel, Star Trek into Darkness. He will posthumously appear in Star Trek Beyond, which co-stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana and opens Friday.

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