LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anton Yelchin's accidental death Sunday ended the actor's life and career far too soon, yet audiences will be able to see his talent and devotion to his craft in several unreleased projects.
The 27-year-old actor reprises his role as Pavel Chekov in the third installment of the rebooted "Star Trek" film franchise due to be released in July, but at least five of the projects showcase his talents beyond a big-budget summer action film.
Yelchin stars in "Porto," a romance set in the Portuguese city that director Gabe Klinger hopes will be released this fall.
"The role, I wish people could discover it already, but we talked about it for a year before we rolled cameras," Klinger said in an interview. "He was developing that character in his mind for a whole year. It was that level of seriousness.
"It will be very bittersweet now."
"Trollhunters," an animated series from Guillermo del Toro, is scheduled to debut on Netflix in December. The project, promoted as an ambitious family-friendly series, was previewed just last week in France. Yelchin voices the show's main character, Jim, who discovers warring trolls living beneath his hometown.
Del Toro said he worked with Yelchin for about a year and called him "a great creative partner and artist."
The actor had also completed filming on several independent movies with writer-directors: Mark Palansky's science-fiction drama "Rememory," with Peter Dinklage, Peer Pedersen's family drama "We Don't Belong Here" with Catherine Keener and Cory Finley's Connecticut thriller "Thoroughbred," with Olivia Cooke.
Yelchin was killed early Sunday when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him between a mailbox pillar and a security fence. The actor had been scheduled to attend a rehearsal, and his body was found when his friends became concerned and went to his home to check on him.
The actor's vehicle was subject to a recall because the gear shifters have confused drivers, causing the vehicles to roll away unexpectedly. The SUV was part of a global recall of 1.1 million vehicles by automaker Fiat Chrysler in April.
The automaker expects to have a fix for the problem in July or August.
As of April, the company had reports of 212 crashes, 41 injuries and 308 property damage claims potentially caused by the shifters, it said in documents filed with the government.
Investigators were looking into the position of Yelchin's gear shift at the time of the accident, Los Angeles Police officer Jane Kim said. The actor had gotten out of the vehicle momentarily, but police didn't say why he was behind it when it started rolling.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said late Monday that it was in contact with Los Angeles authorities, and if the actor's death was related to the gear shift problem, it would be the first known fatality.
The agency also urged owners of recalled vehicles to use their parking brakes and turn them off completely every time they exited until their vehicles were fixed.
Fiat Chrysler said in a statement Monday that it was investigating and it was premature to speculate on the cause of the crash.
The actor's death comes a month before Paramount is scheduled to debut "Star Trek Beyond" in San Diego at the annual fan convention Comic-Con.
Director J.J. Abrams, who cast Yelchin in the franchise, wrote in a statement that he was "brilliant ... kind ... funny as hell, and supremely talented."
Klinger agreed, saying Yelchin studied film and aspired to be more than just an actor.
He said Yelchin was grateful he got to work with one of his acting heroes, Willem Dafoe, on the film "Odd Thomas."
"He used to refer to Willem as an artist, not an actor," Klinger said. "That's the kind of actor he aspired to be, where people didn't regard him as an actor, they regarded him as an artist."
AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher and AP Film Writer Jake Coyle contributed to this report.