A Tribute to Anton Yelchin

by Mary Thornsberry

On June 19, 2016 the world suffered a terrible and shocking blow when actor Anton Yelchin (best known for me as Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek reboot films) was killed in a tragic accident early that Sunday morning. He was only 27 years old. All of his friends and co-stars have been writing heartfelt tributes to him. I am neither but I am a fan and a great admirer of his so I felt it was my turn.

When I first heard that Anton Yelchin had died, I was heartbroken, not just because an artist I admired was dead, but the fact that he had died at such a young age. 27 is just 4 years younger than me and it’s too young. I’ve been watching his movies since he died; don’t ask me why I guess it just helps. He had been acting since he was 10 years old but the first thing I noticed him in was Star Trek in 2009 or so, though I had seen him years earlier in a mini-series called Taken on the Sci-Fi channel. In Star Trek he played Pavel Chekov one of the navigators on the Enterprise, and the only one to speak with a thick Russian accent. He did it so convincingly that I thought it was his real accent and so I didn’t recognize him.

The year that Star Trek premiered in theaters Anton Yelchin began popping up everywhere. It started with Star Trek and then he was in the third installment of the Terminator films, Terminator: Salvation as a young Kyle Reese. He then was in the 2011 remake of the film Fright Night co-starring Colin Farrell and Toni Collette. I really liked him in Fright Night. It was the first time I had seen him in both an action hero role and a serious emotional role. In Fright Night he could be comedic when discovering a killer vampire living next door and he could play brave and emotional with the need to protect his friends and family.

One thing I’ve noticed about Anton Yelchin’s acting is that he has always been a really good crier. It didn’t matter if he was a child or an adult, if he needed to he could really turn on the waterworks and he did it so convincingly that he made you want to cry along with him. He also did a few animated characters as well, such as Clumsy Smurf in the 2011 film The Smurfs and the sequel The Smurfs 2. I really enjoyed his character Clumsy in The Smurfs. The character of Clumsy is exactly what his name entails he is a Smurf that can’t walk two feet in front of him without tripping. His voice was perfect for Clumsy because he had such a small and innocent quality to his voice which is Clumsy in a nutshell. He also voiced Shun Kazama in the English re-dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s From Up on Poppy Hill.

In the time I’ve taken to watch some of his earlier films I’ve discovered a few more movies I can enter into my favorite Anton Yelchin movies category such as Hearts in Atlantis in 2001. Seeing him in Hearts in Atlantis is tough because he is so young, probably 12 years old, and it’s tough seeing him as a kid knowing he is going to pass away at 27. It’s almost impossible not to get sucked into his performance in that movie.

He was an amazing actor, even at that age he had a way of grabbing you during a movie to the point that you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. Something else I found amazing about Anton Yelchin was that I don’t think there is a single parson in the Hollywood acting industry that he didn’t work with. I mean he worked with everyone from Anthony Hopkins and Robin Williams, to Morgan Freeman and Diane Lane, to Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson, even Willem Dafoe, in just twenty years he worked with probably every actor or actress that you can think of. Anton Yelchin was a gifted young man who was just starting to find his place in the world and he was cruelly taken from us too soon. He still had so much more to give. My hope is that he will be remembered not just for his amazing acting but that people will also see the amazing person he was behind it, because if there is one thing that Anton Yelchin deserves it is to be remembered as a person and not just one character.