J.J. Abrams and the cast celebrated the late actor in San Diego on Wednesday night

By Jessica Derschowitz
July 21, 2016 at 12:55 PM EDT
Mike Windle/Getty Images
  • Movie

Star Trek Beyond helped kick off San Diego Comic-Con on Wednesday night with an outdoor IMAX screening, accompanied by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra performing the live score. But before the film began, the cast paid tribute to their late costar Anton Yelchin.

“As wonderful as this is to be here with all of you, and to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, there is something wrong tonight,” said J.J. Abrams, who directed the first two rebooted Star Trek films and produced Beyond. “There is something missing tonight, there is someone missing tonight.”

“Anton Yelchin should be here,” Abrams continued. “Anton’s parents are here, Irina and Victor. We love their son and if I could ask everyone to have a moment of silence for our dear friend, Anton.”

Abrams and the other members of the cast wore black Star Trek lapel pins in honor of the 27-year-old Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov in the film franchise and died last month after being crushed by his car in front of his home.

“All I can say is he’s a wonderful human being,” Chris Pine, who plays Captain James T. Kirk in the franchise, told EW at the event. “I miss him dearly.”

“He was an incredible guy and this is for him tonight,” noted Beyond star and co-writer Simon Pegg, referring to the pin. “He’s someone who was part of our family and we miss terribly. I know people want to know how we feel and stuff, but if you’ve ever lost anybody prematurely in circumstances that defy explanation it’s not really an experience you can put into words. It’s beyond devastating, so I just want people to see him tonight and be happy that he has been immortalized in some way.”

John Cho, who plays Sulu, added, “I just thought it would be appropriate to show our unity in regards to his passing, how much we love him. … I’m glad we could show our love for him this way.”

Star Trek Beyond opens in theaters on Friday.

—Additional reporting by C. Molly Smith.

  • Movie
  • PG-13
release date
  • 07/22/16
  • 120 minutes
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