I have to say, when I look back on 2016, it won’t be with fondness. It will be with extreme sadness. Aside from the personal goings on in my life, 2016 has been fraught with tragedy. We’ve lost David Bowie, Chyna, Doug Banks, Patty Duke, Natalie Cole, Phife Dog, Abe Vigoda and Prince, just to name a few. That’s not even counting the lives lost in the senseless shooting that occurred in Orlando over a week ago. And now, we’ve lost another great talent.
The first time I saw Anton Yelchin was in the film Alpha Dog. Basically, the film is about a group of young thugs that kidnap a 15 yr. old boy due to the fact that his older brother owes a large sum of money to the group’s leader, or the alpha dog, as the title suggests. Although the boy is held hostage, he’s treated as if he’s a part of the group, and as a result, he has no idea the danger he’s really in. The boy sees life with the group as being carefree, with endless parties and drugs, until the leader gives the go ahead to murder him. The scene where the young man realizes he’s about to be killed stayed burned in my mind forever. To this day, my mother can’t stand to watch the movie due to the end result. All this is due to Anton Yelchin’s performance. Despite the dismal ending, I still love the film. The way Anton portrayed the boy is so convincing, that even the audience believes he’ll walk away from the group unscathed, and it’s that much more gut wrenching when you see his reaction to what’s really going on around him.
The next movie I saw him in was the Star Trek reboot, where he played Chekov. As a matter of fact, my mom and I always referred to him as Chekov whenever we spoke of him. Not only did he give another stellar performance, but I learned that his family is actually from Russia. I also learned that he disagreed with the way his character pronounced words with V’s with W’s, as he stated that people from Russia don’t actually speak that way. Once again, his presence in the film as a teenage cadet with unmatched intelligence (unmatched by everyone except Spock, of course) was very memorable, and his performance shined through in the sequel as well.
Over the years, I saw Anton in other films, such as Only Lovers Left Alive, where he played a star struck confidant to a rock star/vampire and Terminator: Salvation, where of course, he played young Kyle Reese. I enjoyed his performances in all the films I saw him in, even Fright Night (although the movie as a whole disappointed me). He proved to be a very good character actor. I wish there was more that I could say about him. He was extremely gifted, and every one that worked with him has commented on what a sweet and funny guy he was. However, he was taken from us way too soon. We were only beginning to see what joy he could bring to the world, and now we’ll never be able to find out how far Anton’s career could’ve taken him. He’ll be sorely missed.
Anton Yelchin: March 11, 1989 – June 19, 2016
—Written by Nadiya