Genre Actor, Anton Yelchin, Dead at 27
Anton Yelchin, the talented young actor who has gained notoriety in Hollywood after appearing in films such as Terminator Salvation and the rebooted Star Trek, has died following a freak automobile accident early Sunday morning. In addition to filling the younger shoes of roles from those franchises, he headlined the 2011 remake of Fright Night, and appeared in a slew of other well-respected films, included Like Crazy and aLPHA dOG.
He will next appear in Star Trek Beyond later this summer, and will be the lead voice actor for Guillermo Del Toro’s first family-friendly animated series Trollhunters. He was a hard-working and committed actor, and his sudden passing made waves on social media.
As a movie fan, I regret not seeing much of this young man’s work, and that is something I will try to remedy soon. It was clear that he he picked his projects carefully and committed himself to each performance. One can only wonder what might have been, and what his career might have looked like in the coming years if not for this tragic accident. While I certainly have a lot of films to watch to see Yelchin’s range as an actor, I enjoyed him in the rebooted Star Trek as well as Terminator Salvation.
In Salvation, he had the impossible challenge of playing a younger version of Kyle Reese, who was previously played to perfection by Michael Beihn. While it took me some time to come to terms with his performance as something more than a mere impression, he really acquitted himself well, and truly “got” the essence of the character, bringing some grit to the role that allowed it to transcend a mere imitation.
His portrayal of Ensign Pavel Chekov was more comical, and some of that comic mileage was drawn from the fact it was an impression. Despite looking very different from original Chekhov actor Walter Keonig, Yelchin worked hard to sound exactly like him, and that was what made it funny, particularly when performing a scene where his “v’s” come out sounding like “w’s”. What really set Yelchin’s version of character apart from Koenig’s was his fierce determination. Despite being so young, and given so much to do on the Enterprise, he had a can-do attitude that any father would want their son to have at their first job. Watch the films again, and you’ll see that a great deal of nice and rather understated humor in those films comes from Yelchin’s version of Chekhov just trying to do the best job he can. There’s a great moment in the first film where a superior alien vessel has its weapons trained on the Enterprise, and Chekhov is told to take the conn: his obvious apprehension is quelled by his desire to just what he’s told, and Yelchin’s comic timing in that scene, is dead on. He made the most of a small part, and maybe that’s harder to pull off than winning Oscars for meatier, more substantial role.
He was one of the most promising young actors working today, who was lost at the height of his powers.