A year ago today (June 19) yet another flame was snuffed out by the unforgiving year that was 2016. Anton Yelchin’s death was so sudden and bizarre. With such a wealth of achievements already under his belt by age 27, one can only imagine the greatness he could have gone on to accomplish later in life. From voyaging onboard the Starship Enterprise to slaying vampires and facing Neo-Nazis head on, the diversity of Yelchin’s roles was proof enough of the outstanding talent he harnessed. In honor of his memory, here is a list of some of his greatest characters.
5. Charlie Bartlett — Charlie Bartlett
Despite sharing the stage with the legendary Robert Downey Jr. (a coming-of-age veteran himself), Yelchin steals the show with his portrayal of the highly likable Charlie Bartlett. After getting kicked out of his prestigious, privately funded boarding school for selling fake IDs, Charlie is moved to a public high school, where he initially struggles to fit in. Eventually, he wins the affection of his peers by holding counseling sessions in the boys' toilets and dishing out a plethora of pills obtained from the various shrinks he sees. This, along with his natural charm and charisma, soon sets him on his way to becoming the most popular guy in school.
4. Charley Brewster — Fright Night
Craig Gillespie's remake of the 1985 American horror film Fright Night sees Yelchin join forces with David Tennant and Colin Farrell to retell the classic vampire story. Yelchin takes on the role of a slightly less nerdy version of the familiar horror character Charley Brewster, who finds out that his neighbor is a vampire. Although tampering with a cult classic is usually a big no-no in the eyes of horror fans, this remake is fun, and gives a comedic twist to the frights. It also features some strong performances from Yelchin and his co-stars, which are hard not to be won over by.
3. Pavel Chekov — Star Trek
J.J. Abrams's reprisal of the beloved Star Trek original series saw Yelchin first take to the helm as the lovable Pavel Chekov back in 2009. Since then, he returned to the role a further two times in the sequels Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016). Despite the role of Mr. Chekov being a slightly smaller one than some of Yelchin's other works, it is quite possibly what he is most known for, and it is painful picturing the Enterprise without him. Abrams has since made it clear that they will not be casting a new Chekov out of respect for Yelchin. Speaking to Toronto Sun last year, Abrams said:
“I would say there’s no replacing him. There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.”
2. Pat — Green Room
Green Room was considered by many to be the best film of 2016, and unsurprisingly so, given the outstanding performances and truly brutal plot line. Yelchin plays Pat, a punk rocker whose band ends up performing live for a Neo-Nazi audience. Things go from uncomfortable to horrifying when Pat accidentally witnesses a murder and is subsequently held hostage in the venue's green room along with his band mates. It definitely one-ups Fright Night in terms of gore and terror, giving Yelchin room to properly explore a grittier, edgier side of his acting talents and push them to the limits.
1. Jacob Helm — Like Crazy
In his portrayal of Jacob Helm in the bittersweet romance film Like Crazy, Yelchin was able to explore his more sensitive side and break a few hearts in the process. Jacob is an American student who rapidly falls in love with Anna, an English girl in his class played by Felicity Jones. The pair are then forced to endure a strenuous long-distance relationship after Anna violates the terms of her student visa. It sounds cheesy, but it is actually highly poetic and deeply moving — good enough to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Also, almost all of the dialogue in the film was improvised!
Even through just a small selection of works from such an extensive career, it is clear that Anton Yelchin was capable of great things. He was already an outstanding actor, but could have gone on to achieve god-like status had the dreaded 27 club not sought out his admission. Fortunately, his iconic roles will ensure that he lives on well beyond his years.
Which of Yelchin's roles was your favorite?