Zoe Saldana recalled her experiences with Star Trek costar Anton Yelchin on Monday’s episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
“He had just turned 18 when we met him. He was the youngest one of the crew, and I almost feel like he was the wisest one,” Saldana said of Yelchin, who was killed in an accident outside his home last month. “So it was a terrible loss. We’re mourning. He’s an irreplaceable person, and the kindest person. He loved what he did. I’m here today, and the rest of the cast and J.J. [Abrams] and Justin [Lin], we’re here promoting the movie mainly for him, because he would have wanted that.”
After Yelchin’s death, Saldana posted a tribute to her costar on Instagram. “You were kind, present, old souled, curious, brilliant, funny, humble, honest, and undeniably talent. Good bye, Anton, it was an honor to have crossed paths with you,” she wrote.
In addition to her Yelchin tribute, Saldana spoke to Colbert about the power of science-fiction and its inherent message of hope.
“It always sparks these amazing conversations at my house,” she told host Stephen Colbert. “Whenever we talk about shows like Star Trek — like, because Barack Obama mentioned being a fan of the show, that maybe this was one of those shows that really inspired him to believe that maybe he could actually be president of the United States of America.”
The actress also spoke about the progressiveness of the original Star Trek series (her mother was a fan of the show, she noted) and how it has continued to inspire people.
“Take [Star Trek] creator Gene Roddenberry, for example. He was a cop, and he was very disappointed and just moved by what he was seeing in the world, at his time, that he wrote this concept of something that he would have liked to have seen life to be,” Saldana added. “And here we are, 50 years later, and it continuously inspires people. So I do believe art has the ability to inspire and inflict hope on people, and I like taking on that responsibility and being a part of good work.”
Saldana reprises her role as Uhura in Star Trek Beyond, out in theaters on Friday. Watch her discuss Star Trek and sci-fi in the video below.