On Sunday morning, actor Anton Yelchin died in a car accident. This unexpected loss is devastating to his family, friends, and fans. At just 27, Yelchin’s filmography was still growing and he had a fulfilling career ahead of him.
His best known role is as Chekov in the Star Trek reboot and he will reprise the role in Star Trek: Beyond this summer. Cast alongside big names like Chris Pine, it could’ve been easy for his performance to have gone overlooked. Despite his relatively minor role, he injected enough humor to fulfill a lasting impression for fans of the franchise as well as new audiences. He also played Kyle Reese in 2009’s Terminator Salvation. While not as successful as Star Trek, playing the iconic character of Kyle Reese was admirable. Yelchin’s earnest sensibilities matched with his heroism and elevated the film out of complete mediocrity.
These roles not only ignited his career in Hollywood but paved the way for several genre movies, including the vampire reboot Fright Night and this year’s siege thriller Green Room. While the former was a fun horror flick with doses of comedy juxtaposed with suspense, the latter was a terrifying exercise so ripe with tension it was difficult to breathe. These diversions from science-fiction into horror and thriller gave proof of Yelchin’s capability as a genre actor. His ability to adapt to these tonally different films perfectly showcased his skill as an actor and his devotion to character. These films also saw him moving into lead roles where his commanding charisma solidified his leading power.
Starting his acting career in 2000, Yelchin seamlessly transitioned into more mature roles. His career seemed to be constantly gaining momentum, which makes his untimely death all the more tragic. At the age of 27, Yelchin already had a lot of accomplishments and a full career ahead of him. His versatility as a performer confirmed his potential and was evidence that he was a young actor to keep watching. His comedic delivery and timing perfectly suited roles like Chekov or as the titular character in Charlie Bartlett. Recently, he surprised fans with his turn as Pat in Green Room. Playing a punk rocker fighting his way through an army of skinheads was a brave and harrowing depiction of prey against predator.
Aside from Star Trek: Beyond, Yelchin completed four other films, which will be released over the next year. I think it’s incredible that studios like Marvel or Warner Bros. weren’t fighting to cast him in the superhero movies. He could have fit in pretty much any role, and his name was batted around for Spider-Man at one time. Not that he absolutely needed that on his resume, but it is undoubtedly clear that we’ve lost a huge talent.
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