Saturday, December 08, 2007


It’s a weird month for Pavel Chekov. A new actor will go before the Paramount cameras to play him in the J.J. Abrams movie, while a different young Chekov suddenly ages in the New Voyages web series, To Serve All My Days—but it is Walter Koenig as the older Chekov who stars in that webisode, being re-released this month in a revised version. And he plays Pavel going through yet another transformation in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Science fiction characters have to get used to sudden changes—but what about the actors who play them? How is Walter Koenig coping?

Q. The inevitable question—how do you feel about the new Star Trek movie?

WK. I think it’s great. I’m sure they’ll do an excellent job. They’ve got some very creative people involved in making this film.

Q. How do you feel about somebody else taking over the role of Chekov?

WK. The young man playing Chekov [Anton Yelchin] is 19 years old. I don’t have proprietary feelings about somebody playing Chekov at the age of 19—that would be preposterous. If they cast somebody at the age of 71 playing Chekov and they didn’t cast me, I might feel differently.

I wish him well. I hope he makes it his own. I don’t think that any of us should be held up as the definitive portrayal of one of the original characters—well, except maybe Leonard as Spock. There’s a thousand actors who could play any of the other roles and bring their own sensibility to it, and make it equally truthful. I’ve been asked a number of times what would I tell this young man—I would tell him just to find it for himself and make it his. If you start imitating someone else it’s never yours, and as a consequence it’s never as truthful as it should be. It doesn’t come from within you. So I just say, make it yours, own it, and I’m sure it’ll be good.

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