Russian-born Anton Yelchin is in negotiations to play Pavel Chekov* in the upcoming J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek XI, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the original series and its spin-off movies, Walter Koenig played Chekov, the heavily accented Russian-born navigator of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk.
The addition of Russian-born Yelchin, who starred in Alpha Dog and will next be seen in Charlie Bartlett, is the second major casting news for the Trek prequel. As previously reported, during last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego, Paramount announced that Leonard Nimoy would reprise his legendary role as Mr. Spock, while Zachary Quinto, of the NBC superhero drama Heroes, would play a young Spock.
Casting is currently taking place in New York and London for the roles of the young James T. Kirk, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Uhura, Hikaru Sulu, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the film’s villain and the Federation captain. Abrams is reportedly expected to sign bigger-name actors for the latter two parts.
Abrams is producing the 11th Star Trek film through his Paramount-based production company Bad Robot, which is also working on the mysterious 1-18-08/Cloverfield monster movie. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci penned the Trek screenplay and will executive produce along with Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof. No official plot details have been released at this time.
Star Trek IX is scheduled to open in theaters on Christmas Day 2008.
*Original source has name as “Checkov” as did several other sources. According to startrek.com, the official Trek site, it’s spelled “Chekov.”