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Chris Pine Remembers Friend, ‘Star Trek’ Co-Star Anton Yelchin: ‘We Saw Him Grow Up’

Star Trek’ leading man Chris Pine delighted the crowd at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sunday evening by introducing the trailer for “Love, Antosha,” a documentary about the actor’s late co-star and friend Anton Yelchin. The emotional footage played before a screening of “Star Trek” that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the film’s debut.

“Obviously we’re here for Anton; he was one of my dear friends and I felt like I was only getting a chance to know him a better one when he passed,” Pine told the crowd. “The film is incredible and I think it’ll show you all different sides of the guy that I knew — this curious, fascinating, complex, strange little dude.”

Pine went on to talk about working with Yelchin on the “Star Trek” films, saying he was like a little brother to the cast since he was about 10 years younger than the other actors.  “We saw him grow up and continue to get stranger, more curious – [about] music and literature and photography. You’ll see all that in here,” he added. “Tons of letters that he wrote to his family who he was close with. And it’s so touching to see how much love there is between Viktor and Irina, his parents, and Anton.”

“I think it’s a great legacy for whom I had a tremendous amount of respect and for this courageous young man who just had zero fear and boundless, endless positivity and, an energy for life,” the actor concluded, thanking fans for coming to celebrate a film that he considers to be one of his favorites, though he couldn’t believe so much time had passed since filming. Proceeds from the special event benefited the Anton Yelchin Foundation.

Yelchin died after a freak car accident in June 2016. The actor was only 27 years old.

Variety spoke to Pine and the documentary’s director Garret Price about their experience contributing to the film and how it adds to the late actor’s legacy, before they introduced the footage at the cemetery where Yelchin is buried.

“His parents are here every single day. It’s the right place to do it,” Price explained. “I think, once people see the trailer, they’ll be drawn in and especially this crowd — these are true ‘Star Trek’ fans. But I want people to explore with him beyond ‘Star Trek.’ There’s so much there to explore.”

“He’s doing all this with this deadly chronic illness [cystic fibrosis] that he’s been fighting his whole life, that he kept to himself,” the director noted. “That’s another part of this movie – it’s about someone that overcomes obstacles and keeps living a life, because he loved doing what he loved doing so much.”

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Kobal/Shutterstock (5885356al) Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine Star Trek Beyond - 2016 Director: Justin Lin Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot USA Scene Still Scifi Star Trek: Sans limites
CREDIT: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Kobal/Shutterstock

For his part, Pine admitted that it was “really difficult” to sit down for this documentary and talk about Yelchin.

“All of it was a really new experience for me. I’d never lost someone that I knew – I haven’t – as well as Anton. We just spent a lot of close time together and I’d known him for years,” Pine explained. “It was doubly difficult, but also joyous in the sense that I got to remember and talk about a guy that I really liked and was interested by, and every time I got a chance to hang out with him, always showed us a strange new side of himself that made us laugh.”

Pine and Yelchin starred in three films in the sci-fi series, including 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond,” which debuted in theaters just months after the actor’s untimely death. A fourth film featuring this cast was announced in 2016 and Pine is hopeful the project will move forward.

“I think all of us would be a very interested to do it again,” Pine told Variety. “We all have a really close bond, as you can imagine. I think that there are tons of stories left to tell and it’s just a matter of the cinema gods coming together and allowing that to happen and a script to make it work and make it sing. And I can’t imagine we wouldn’t.”

More of Yelchin’s “Star Trek” co-stars, including Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto and director J.J Abrams, as well as actors Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, Ben Foster and Willem Dafoe, shared their memories in what has been called “a touching and surprising portrait” of the late actor. Nicolas Cage provided the voiceover for the film, reading some of Yelchin’s letters, which Price used as a way for the late star to frame the narrative.

“I was looking for someone to read his words, and I wanted someone with some gravitas and an emotional connection to Anton, who we hadn’t interviewed yet in the film. And the first person, [Yelchin’s mother Irina] had mentioned was Nic. We reached out and he was on board right away,” Price explained. “we sit in the recording booth of the very first day, and he starts reading the first letter, and he just breaks down crying.”

After Cage walked away for about 10 minutes, the director said he returned and explained his reaction, saying, “This is one of the most important things I’ve been asked to do in a long time.”

“Love, Antosha” debuts in select theaters on August 2.

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