Simon Pegg: ‘Star Trek Beyond is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin’

Star Trek Beyond is a fitting tribute to both Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy, the film’s writer Simon Pegg has stated.
Pegg, also plays Scotty, chief engineer of the USS Enterprise, in the third instalment of the franchise relaunched by J.J. Abrams in 2009. In Beyond, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads his crew against a new alien enemy, the handsome Idris Elba as Krall, albeit concealed under mounds of make-up.
The actor/writer explains that following Nimoy’s death from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2015, aged 83, he and co-writer Doug Jung knew they had to pay tribute to the Star Trek icon. As such Pegg and Jung decided to write him into the film, intertwining TV star Nimoy’s contributions to the much loved sci-fi franchise with Zachary Quinto’s movie version of Spock.
“We knew immediately we wanted to pay tribute to him in some way,” Pegg revealed in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Then we thought, wouldn’t it be good to actually make Leonard’s passing—or the passing of his character, Spock, part of our Spock’s arc? To actually give him a presence in the movie that had an effect on what Zach’s Spock does and the decisions that he makes?”
It would be a fitting tribute to the actor, who starred as the emotionless Vulcan from the pilot episode of Star Trek shot in late 1964 to his final film cameo performance in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.
“It’s like Spock helps from beyond. It just felt really lovely and right, and tasteful and fitting for a man who is the face, really, of Star Trek – probably more than Kirk,” Pegg added. “We wanted to make a worthy tribute to the man.”
Tragedy hit the Star Trek family again less than a month before opening when 27-year-old Anton Yelchin died in a freak vehicle accident.
The new tragedy compelled director Justin Lin to go back through footage of Yelchin’s performance as the youthful Russian navigator Pavel Chekov to add a tribute to the film’s final scene.
“Justin went back and edited the final moment so that when Kirk says, ‘To absent friends,’ it cuts to Anton, which is really moving,” shared Pegg. “It’s hard to even imagine it now, watching the film because he’s there, he’s alive… and I still can’t quite even begin to process the fact that we’re talking about him in the past tense. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”
Fittingly, his cheeky Chekov is also one of the first characters seen in the movie which opens halfway through the Enterprise’s five-year tour through the stars. Pegg says that following a meeting, the cast took the decision to move forward with the film’s press tour just weeks after Yelchin’s death to honour his memory.
“We all spent so much time together last summer because we were so far away from home. Me and Anton and Sofia (Boutella) spent a lot of time together. We had a little gang,” an emotional Pegg explained. “It’s unspeakable. I feel for anybody who’s had a loss like that.”