ByMichael Patterson, writer at
I Write. Sometimes. Follow me on Twitter: @MichaelP93
Michael Patterson

As I'm sure you heard by now, actor Anton Yelchin passed away after being involved in a freak car accident at his home on Sunday morning. He was 27 years old.

It's always incredibly sad to hear when someone has died, but there's just something even more tragic about it when it happens to someone so young and by such a freak occurrence. Anton Yelchin was a talented performer who had touched many people over his young career. At such a young age, we should have been writing about his continued success, not farewell articles.

I was genuinely hurt to hear this news. I may have never known Anton, but I was just one of the countless people who loved his work and appreciated the awesome performances he delivered. Anyone who knew him have nothing but kind words to say about him.

Anton Yelchin
Anton Yelchin

I decided to write this article because I always thought incredibly highly of Anton Yelchin. I was first introduced to him in Terminator: Salvation, in which he portrayed a young Kyle Reese in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by the machines.

A Great Performance In A Mediocre Movie

Released in 2009, Terminator Salvation wasn't very well-received by critics. As a massive fan of the Terminator franchise, I wasn't thrilled about the film either -- but I also wasn't willing to write it off -- it had some incredibly intriguing ideas and strong aspects. One of the strong points and saving graces of the film was Anton Yelchin's performance as a young Kyle Reese.

Yelchin has since been renowned for his role in Fright Night, his powerhouse performance in Like Crazy and his role as the iconic Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek movie franchise, including the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. However, when talking about Yelchin's strongest performances, I would strongly suggest that Terminator: Salvation be on that list. Despite the critical reviews, Yelchin stood out as the sometimes fearful but always strong-willed Kyle Reese.

Nervous: Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese (via WB)
Nervous: Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese (via WB)

Yelchin approached the role with a surprising vulnerability that was incredibly apt given the circumstances. This wasn't the battle hardened Kyle Reese that Michael Beihn portrayed in The Terminator. This was a scared young boy looking for salvation in a dystopian world, salvation in the form of John Connor and the Resistance.

Yelchin delivered a powerful and layered performance that was perhaps the standout element of Terminator Salvation. At times, he was courageous and firm, reminiscent of the character we knew he would eventually become, and at other times, he was scared and afraid.

Speaking of which, Yelchin's eyes told a better story than the film ever could, especially when he saw the T-600 approaching him in the final act of the film. The fear in his eyes proved that the young actor didn't even have to speak in order to deliver a striking and solid performance.

A Worthy Kyle Reese

On the other hand, his relationship with Star portrayed Reese as a protector long before his ultimate mission of protecting Sarah Connor. Yelchin played the protector role with the same ferocity that Michael Biehn did. Whether he was grabbing Star to shield her from an onslaught of machines or firing at incoming Terminators, Yelchin had the same charisma and passion as his predecessor.

In fact, the scene in Terminator: Salvation when Reese, on the back of the truck, fires back at the Terminator motorcycles is eerily reminiscent of the scene in The Terminator where Biehn's iteration does the exact same thing, firing back as the Terminator approaches on his motorcycle. The actor's body language conveyed the determination and desire to keep fighting the machines to the end -- incredibly similar to Biehn's body language 24 years prior.

Comparison: Biehn and Yelchin (via MGM and WB)
Comparison: Biehn and Yelchin (via MGM and WB)

Anton Yelchin didn't just copy Biehn or try to completely change the role either -- he took an iconic character and portrayed him with the same heart and determination as the legendary actor before him. But he didn't stop there, he added even more depth to the character, making him vulnerable, uncertain and fearful.

These attributes aren't ones that the Kyle Reese of the 1984 original possess, but they highlight the young Reese's uncertainty in the post-apocalyptic world of the machines. They push him to achieving his ultimate goal -- earning his stripes and becoming a member of the Resistance. Yelchin's performance was, without a doubt, one of the shining lights of Terminator: Salvation and because of that, he should have been asked to return for Terminator: Genisys.

Iconic: The Kyle Reese Quote (via WB)
Iconic: The Kyle Reese Quote (via WB)

Yelchin's performance as Kyle Reese stands apart and gives us an insight into the origin story of the Terminator franchise's original hero. Thank you for bringing Kyle Reese to life once again, Anton.

The loss of Anton Yelchin has been felt around the world. With countless people mourning his loss, allow me to take this moment to send my thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and fans. He was an exceptional actor and truly had so much more to give to the world. Just like his character Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation, Anton Yelchin can rest knowing that he earned his stripes, because his life was taken far too soon but his legacy will live on forever.

Rest in eternal peace, Mr. Yelchin. Thank You for sharing your talent with the world.

Anton Viktorovich Yelchin

March 11, 1989 - June 19, 2016


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