Actor Anthon Yelchin was reportedly killed early Sunday morning in a freak auto accident outside his Los Angeles home. He was 27.
Yelchin had a bright, vulnerable on-screen energy; it was a joy to watch the magnanimity and sweetness he brought to his performances.
Yelchin was born to Russian-Jewish parents, married figure skaters who emigrated to the United States when Anton was six months old. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and began performing in the 1990s at the age of nine.
Yelchin picked up a Best Performance in a Feature Film nod at the 2002 Young Artist Awards for his role as Bobby Garfield in “Hearts in Atlantis” and made an impression as a lead in the crime film “Alpha Dog,” with Justin Timberlake.
He was also tremendous as a young, one-trick magician in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” holding his own brilliantly in a scene with Larry David.
Though the movie itself received mixed reviews, Yelchin scored something of a breakout performance in 2008 as the title character in “Charlie Bartlett,” a druggy modernization of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Yelchin is best known as Pavel Checkov in the 2009 J.J. Abrams-helmed “Star Trek” reboot. Yelchin is an energetic presence as the Enterprise’s 17-year old “whiz kid” navigator whose genius for math proves vital. I remain very fond of the “I can do that!” scene.
He was also in “Star Trek Into Darkness” (wherein he gets a terrific red shirt gag), a movie I overrated rather egregiously.
Yelchin will also appear posthumously later this summer in “Star Trek Beyond.” J.J. Abrams paid tribute ot Yelchin on Twitter, as did many of Yelchin’s cast mates.
But I will remember him best as the lead in the terrific, terrifying “Green Room.” Yelchin played Pat, the quiet bass player in the Northern Virginia punk band the Ain’t Rights who run afoul of Nazi skinheads in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a brilliantly horrifying movie and he carries it through virtually every grim moment. Here is a tribute to Yelchin by “Green Room” director Jeremy Saulnier and here is the two of them discussing the film.
He will be missed.