I really wasn't sure how to handle the news of Anton Yelchin's passing yesterday. The 27 year old notched up an insane number of credits in his short span, including Spielberg's Taken TV series, the Star Trek franchise, the Fright Night reboot and indie thriller Green Room.
He had a strong screen presence whether as a lead or in a supporting role and the idea that he'll never make another new film again didn't really compute with me, especially as we're about to see the actor on the big screen once more in the role of Chekov in Star Trek Beyond.
So much energy and potential at such a young age.
Green Room director Jeremy Saulnier had the chance to work with Yelchin on that intense thriller which is easily one of the best films of the year, and he sent along some comments on the actor to Indiewire. Here's what he had to say:
Anton was a dream. He was kind and sharp and as sincere as anyone I’ve ever known. Our collaboration on “Green Room” was our first and, until the devastating news of his passing, wouldn’t have been our last.
I put a lot on his shoulders when I asked him to play my lead, but he carried the cinematic weight like a goddamn champion. Not only did he bring a delicate balance of tragic vulnerability and intense physicality to his character on screen, he offered his unending generosity and patience off-screen.
In an industry governed by Excel sheets and foreign sales estimates, Anton reminded me that there’s nothing more valuable than good people. He put me back in the comfort zone I knew growing up, making backyard films with best friends, and created a protective bubble where creativity could thrive.
Decompressing from our recent press tour together, he treated me to dinner. I was telling him how amazing it was to find such a young cast (25 and under) with so much talent and experience. It was lighting in a bottle, and we captured it. Soon, I said, you kids will be playing good guys and bad guys, husbands and wives. But we got your youth on screen, we archived it. It felt like a mission accomplished.
Looking ahead, Anton asked my advice on his directorial debut which he hoped to shoot this summer. I was happy to share my experience and, frankly, I was flattered to engage in a Mentor-Mentee relationship with such an exceptional talent.
We spoke about his career in general. While Anton was a notorious over-thinker on set about character analysis and tracking his performance, he was a bold and reckless adventurer when it came to saying “yes” to projects. I advised him to maybe slow down, to not say “yes” to so many projects and instead try out a more targeted strategy.
Upon reflection this morning, not only did I realize that my advice was totally lame and that he was right all along, I realized who the “Mentor” actually was in our relationship. Here’s to bold and reckless adventure, and most importantly, Good People.
The immediacy makes it all the more tragic, with the young man gearing up to direct his first feature in the next few weeks. This was a healthy guy at the prime of his life and in the middle of a truly exceptional part of his career where he was in a position to mix big and small films and even step behind the camera himself.
I've also been reading about journalists who had interviews lined up with the actor on Star Trek Beyond, plans which are an everyday part of the lives of actors and media types, undone by tragedy.
My thoughts are with his family and everyone close to him. Star Trek Beyond will have more than a touch of sadness when it arrives in cinemas on the 22nd of July.