July 19, 2016, marked an incredibly sad day as it was reported that Anton Yelchin tragically passed away. Yelchin’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE that the 27-year-old actor died Sunday morning in what he described as a “Fatal traffic collision” and went on to say that “His family requests you respect their privacy at this time.” Yelchin was found by friends pinned between his car and a brick pillar outside his home in Studio City, CA. Yelchin left his car while in his driveway when it rolled back and trapped him against the pillar and a security fence. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the cause of death as “blunt traumatic asphyxia”, and stated that there were “no obvious suspicious circumstances involved”.
Over the course of 17 years, Yelchin made a name for himself, appearing in a number of films and portraying a wide variety of different characters. Personally, my first memory of Anton Yelchin was in the 2001 drama, Hearts In Atlantis, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, where he portrayed neglected child, Bobby Garfield. The movie was great in itself but watching such a young talent play off the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Hope Davis in such a believable way only made the movie that much better. Yelchin would later reunite with Davis, playing a mother and son duo once again, in the 2007 indie-film, Charlie Bartlett.
Anton’s career would only flourish later on with roles in Alpha Dog, Fright Night (2011) and Odd Thomas, but probably the most defining roles of his career were roles he had taken over from past actors. In 2009, Yelchin took over two separate iconic roles; Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation and Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009), both of which he nailed perfectly, in my opinion. In an interview with PEOPLE in 2009, the young actor described his experiences playing these roles;
“It’s bizarre. My past experience has been working on movies that take a month-and-a-half to shoot,” he said. “Then, suddenly, I’m there for six or seven months. But, I look at them as really interesting, great characters. Both of these characters, Chekov and Kyle Reese, are challenges because they have been these iconic, previous characters and previous performance that were great, and that established this legacy. So the challenge was to work with that legacy and to see how I could use it to inform my performance. It was just really interesting, and they were just really great characters to play, and I feel like I’ve been lucky to play them.”
The more I watched this actor’s films, it became more obvious just how much thought he put into each role he played.When I saw him play both Kyle Reese and Chekov, I never once saw an actor playing a role; I saw the young Kyle Reese and the young Pavel Chekov and it was a pleasure watching Anton Yelchin bring them back to life. Yelchin’s final film will be Thoroughbred, a psychological thriller that he wrapped in Boston just two weeks before his untimely death. Meanwhile, fans will still get to see him portray Chekov one last time when Star Trek: Beyond hits theaters on July 22, 2006. Rest In Peace, Anton Yelchin. You will be missed but never forgotten.
“There are moments of something so beautiful like, people’s interactions are so complex. That’s why I hate it when people say they’re bored. You cannot be bored. This is not a world where boredom occurs, you know what I mean? This world is always crazy, it’s always hard to deal with, it’s always interesting.”
– Anton Yelchin
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.