Five notable Anton Yelchin roles, from 'Like Crazy' and 'Star Trek' to 'Smurfs'
By Tre'vell Anderson
Jun 19, 2016 | 1:56 PM
Anton Yelchin, who died Sunday after his vehicle rolled down his Studio City driveway and trapped him against a mailbox, was one of Hollywood’s rising young actors. His list of credits spans 16 years and includes work with the likes of Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster.
News of the 27-year-old’s death shook the industry, prompting actors including Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe to tweet their condolences.
“This is unreal. Anton Yelchin is such a talent. Such a huge loss,” Kendrick tweeted.
Yelchin is perhaps best known for playing Chekov in the recent “Star Trek” reboot. A number of his other roles, however, will be remembered by the industry as some of his finest work. Here are five of them:
Opposite Felicity Jones in 2011’s “Like Crazy,” Yelchin played an American student who falls in love with a foreign exchange student from Britain (Jones) in the U.S. on an educational visa. Both actors were lauded for their performances in the Drake Doremus-directed picture. The film won nine awards and was nominated for more at festivals and ceremonies throughout the world, including the Hollywood Spotlight Award that Yelchin earned at the Hollywood Film Awards.
Of his performance, The Times’ film critic Kenneth Turansaid in his review: “Yelchin... expertly delineates the core quietness of Jacob, his tangible seriousness and sincerity.”
When Yelchin began working on 2011’s "The Beaver" — about a troubled husband and executive who uses a beaver hand puppet as his sole means of communicating — he put the headlines about costar Mel Gibson’s personal life out of his mind. Yelchin, then 22, said media reports about Gibson's non-work behavior did not affect their relationship on set.
Still Yelchin said, he found Gibson to be an "intense human being."
“We had some really amazing rehearsals with him... where he would just talk and we would sort of be in character and it would just make me weep because he's got a lot going on inside," the actor said. "When someone shares that with you in really close proximity, it's very affecting."
Yelchin went on to receive a nomination for his role at the 2012 Prism Awards.
In promoting last year’s “Green Room,” Yelchin spoke to The Times’ Mark Olsen about the uniqueness of the story about a hardcore Virginia-based band called the Ain't Rights who find themselves forced to play to a crowd of racist skinheads. And somehow, after the gig, a dead body ends up in their dressing room, from which they can’t escape.
"There has to be something bigger than they walked into this... and now they're stuck," said Yelchin. "And there really isn't. There is no why. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they are dealing with someone who felt the only way to solve a problem was a very pragmatic approach. And I find that heartbreaking."
The film received positive responses, including from critic Robert Abele, who wrote The Times’ review:
“[It’s] such a gonzo knockout of siege cinema — ‘Deliverance’ meets ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ — that you hope it finds an appreciative audience beyond horror lovers already itching to embrace it,” Abele wrote. “Simply put, when you watch a meticulously crafted movie like [director Jeremy] Saulnier's, you go exactly where he wants you to go, and that may be a more menacing prospect for chillseekers than any splashy act of violence.”
“The Smurfs” franchise
Yelchin was a part of “The Smurfs” family since its cinematic debut in 2011 as the voice of Clumsy. Though the films weren’t favorites of critics, fans worldwide flocked to the pictures, which also featured the voices of Sofía Vergara and Hank Azaria among others.
The original film went on to gross $563.7 million worldwide, and the sequel, 2013’s “The Smurfs 2,” took in $347.5 million worldwide.
“Star Trek” franchise
When it was announced that director J.J. Abrams and his writers of choice, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, were brought in by Paramount to reformulate the venerable space opera franchise that is “Star Trek,”critics and fans were skeptical. But as Turan said in his review: “Though it has its over-caffeinated aspects and its missteps, this ‘Star Trek’ has in general bridged the gap between the old and the new with alacrity and purpose.”
Yelchin was a member of this new cast, playing Chekov, along with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana. As a group, they went on to win best cast from the Boston and Denver film critic societies.
The third installment of the franchise, “Star Trek Beyond,” is due out July 22.