Remembering the Life and Legacy of Anton Yelchin, 1989-2016
On Sunday, the world said goodbye to one of the most talented young actors in Hollywood far too soon, when Anton Yelchin, 27, died in a freak automobile accident at his home. Yelchin’s youthful features had become a familiar sight in Hollywood, thanks to a sixteen-year-long career that spanned over sixty film and TV projects, garnering widespread praise and a number of acting awards. Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on March 11, 1989 to Soviet figure skating celebrities Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, his family soon fled to Los Angeles to provide a better life for him, outside of the confines of the USSR. At the age of 11, he appeared in an episode of ER and, a year later, starred opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins in a breakthrough film role in 2001’s Hearts in Atlantis.
Only a few short months ago, while sitting down with Yelchin to talk about his newest film, the neo-Nazi rock thriller Green Room, we had the opportunity to ask him about the diverse range of films that he’d starred in. “I’ve been in a bunch of different movies, but my favorites ones confront some deep existential fears that I have about being alive,” he revealed. “Sounds cheesy, but it’s the only reason why I would want to be moved by things. I’m more interested in exploring those kinds of ideas.”
To read the answer back now given the circumstances, it’s a chilling reminder of the frailty of life, but also the brilliance that he brought to the screen. Whether he was playing a teenager kidnapped by thugs in Alpha Dog, a high school outcast who becomes his school’s therapist and pharmacist in Charlie Bartlett, struggling with the perils of long-distance relationships in Like Crazy, flying through galaxies on the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek films, or so many other films, he was being emotionally moved by the role just as much as we were through watching him. That quality is rare and beautiful in Hollywood, which made his death all the more draining.
Despite the colossal achievements he had in Hollywood at such a young age, his creativity was only just beginning to blossom. The star was set to star in a handful of new projects, planned to begin directing films, and had even begun to experiment with photography—most recently collaborating with model/photographer Kate Parfet for an Autre Magazine photo spread last month. In the aftermath of the news, an outpouring of grief from fellow actors, directors and friends have highlighted his powerful and tender personality on and off the camera. As we say goodbye to Yelchin and mourn losing such an astounding talent, we’re reminded of something he said that now stands as a testament to his skill and his character:
“If I’m moved by something, I’m drawn to it.”
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Images via LA Mag, LA Times, ER, Hearts in Atlantis, and Autre Magazine.