It may seem a bit soon to be discussing the future of a franchise when the latest installment hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but the early buzz surrounding Star Trek Beyond is so positive that Paramount has already announced plans for Star Trek 4. Following the recent, tragic passing of Anton Yelchin, some fans have wondered how the Trek universe will address that loss, and producer J.J. Abrams has an answer.

Star Trek Beyond is one of the last films Yelchin completed before he passed away last month at the age of 27. With another sequel on the horizon, Postmedia Network asked producer J.J. Abrams how they might deal with Yelchin’s death in the next installment of the franchise. Although he said it was “too early” to give a specific response, he did assure fans that Yelchin will absolutely not be recast:

I would say there’s no replacing him. There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.

Abrams went on to say they’re still working on how they’ll handle Yelchin’s role as Ensign Pavel Chekov, and confirmed that they have considered possibly killing off the character in the franchise — ultimately, he says it’s still too soon to offer a definitive answer.

When Paul Walker passed away a few years ago, filming on Furious 7 was not yet complete, and while his death presented the cast and crew with a few obstacles, it also gave them a unique opportunity to honor the actor’s memory by creating a special sequence for the end of the film. Production on Star Trek Beyond was already complete when Yelchin passed away, but according to those who have seen the film, director Justin Lin and the cast and crew still found a way to honor their friend:

It’s unclear if Abrams & Co. will find a way to incorporate a tribute to Yelchin in Star Trek 4, which is still at least a couple of years away from filming. In the meantime, you can see Yelchin in one of his last film roles this Friday, when Star Trek Beyond arrives in theaters.

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