The Haunting Message On Actor Anton Yelchin's Gravestone

Actor Anton Yelchin, best known as Pavel Chekov in the J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" reboot film series, died at the age of 27 in a horrifying accident outside his Los Angeles home. One year later, Yelchin was moved from Mount Sinai Cemetery in LA when his parents learned that Mount Sinai would not allow the type of memorial they had in mind for their son. Yelchin, the only child of Russian immigrant figure skaters, is now buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the final resting place of stars like Rudolph Valentino and Judy Garland.

In 2017, the Yelchin remembrance at Hollywood Forever on Santa Monica Boulevard was unveiled in a star-studded memorial service. Actress and one-time co-star Jennifer Lawrence and actor Jon Voight were in attendance, as well as others like Simon Pegg, J.J. Abrams, and Zoe Saldana. 

Today, a tribute to the late actor stands on the site with a message engraved on the gravestone. That message references the late star's untapped potential in the film industry, and even, in some sense, the boundless possibility represented by Yelchin's most notable role as Chekov. There's a life-sized bronze statue at his resting place, and a memorial plaque with a birth date — March 11, 1989 — but no death date. Instead of a death date the plaque reads, "Forever."

Yelchin was crushed by his own car

In 2016 Yelchin was trapped by his Jeep Grand Cherokee when it unexpectedly rolled backward down the driveway outside the actor's Los Angeles home and pinned him against a brick column that was part of a security fence. Disturbingly and sadly, Yelchin reportedly lived for some time before he died from suffocation. In 2018, Yelchin's parents settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the vehicle's manufacturer, Chrysler Fiat. The automotive company recalled more than 1 million vehicles of the same make and model as Yelchin's for an issue with the gear shifter that was the reason for several accidents similar to what caused Yelchin's death.

According to the LA Times, Yelchin's father Victor Yelchin said at the time that the family's suit was filed, "In spite of our unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families from the same tragedy."

Yelchin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1989, then lived in Leningrad. At a time when the Soviet Union was collapsing and anti-Jewish sentiment was on the rise, Yelchin's family moved to Los Angeles when he was just 6 months old. In a city where everyone wants to get into show business, Yelchin's mother Irina Korina, Victor told the LA Times that someone once remarked about Yelchin, "He's beautiful. He will be [an] actor."

A statue of Yelchin now stands at his gravesite

That prediction came true. Anton Yelchin was embraced by those he worked with in the entertainment industry. After his death in in 2016, J.J. Abrams, who directed Yelchin in "Star Trek" wrote a note and posted a photo of it on X (formerly Twitter). It read, "You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough. Missing you..."

Today, a bronze statue of Yelchin stands at Hollywood Forever. At the "Life Celebration" service revealing Yelchin's memorial, pictures from throughout Yelchin's life were displayed alongside a "Star Trek" fan-made mural, per The Hollywood Reporter. On Yelchin's gravestone, his birth year, 1989, is engraved, but as previously mentioned, his family made the unusual choice to leave off a date of death.

While we don't know exactly why Anton Yelchin's parents chose to write "Forever" instead of an official death date at his gravesite, it isn't hard to imagine why. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Yelchin's parents moved into his home after he died, unable to part with the house he'd been "obsessed" with. They described still being able to sense their son.

"It's difficult," Yelchin's father Viktor said, "but we feel his presence. We're closer to him, even if it's very hard." Yelchin's mother Irina also described not only sensing her son's presence, but also the lingering and traumatic effects of Yelchin's sudden death. She said simply of the driveway where Yelchin died, "It's hard to walk there."

Anton Yelchin's parents made a documentary to honor him

Aside from Yelchin's parents' ongoing devotion to their son, they also once received a reminder from Yelchin's co-star Jon Voight about the need to ensure that others remember Yelchin, as well. Viktor and Irina, Yelchin's parents, openly told Voight at one point, "We don't see any reason to live anymore ... our whole life is over." This sentiment becomes extra understandable given how the couple fled the Soviet Union during its collapse in order to make a better life for their son elsewhere. But in reply to the mourning parents' statement, Voight said, "Why? You have to live. Make a documentary and keep his memory alive," per the LA Times.  

That documentary, 2019's, "Love, Antosha," memorializes Yelchin with grace and sensitivity. The documentary, plus Yelchin's roles, are perhaps the closest to "forever" that a person could have. Viktor and Irina Yelchin said it was painful to make the documentary, having to revisit memories and watch old videos, but it was an important way to honor their son. 

She told the LA Times, "With this movie, it was difficult because everyone knows the end. It can't be changed, and you can't avoid it," she said. "But I think people will love it because even though everyone knows the end, they're still smiling and laughing. We had the best baby in the world."