I recall the moment that I heard on the news that Anton Yelchin had passed away. It was horribly unexpected. He was 27 years old—5 years younger than me at the time. And he was one of the most talented young actors working in Hollywood with a steady stream of remarkable performances in a wide array of motion pictures.
Sure, everyone had come to know Yelchin as Chekov in the rebooted “Star Trek” films. But my favorite films of his were far more obscure. Whether he was playing a school’s self-appointed psychologist in “Charlie Bartlett” or a waterpark employee in “Middle of Nowhere” or a young man who is shocked when his ex-girlfriend comes back from the dead in “Burying the Ex,” Yelchin was a true genius.
That is why it was so tragic to see him vanish from the earth at such a young age. However, I was unaware of just how vast his brilliance was until I watched “Love, Antosha”—a new documentary from filmmaker Garret Price that explores the actor’s life through his journals and other writings, his photography, the original music he wrote and interviews with his family, friends and colleagues.
“Love, Antosha” is a thoroughly moving motion picture. It is a touching tribute to both the actor and the human being as well as a very telling story of how parents’ love and support can benefit a child on both a creative level and a humanitarian level. It is definitely one of the finest documentaries I have seen all year.
I had the distinct honor of interviewing Yelchin back in 2011 during his press tour for the romantic drama “Like Crazy.” Unfortunately, the film’s publicists did not allow photos so I have to rely on memory alone to appreciate our brief meeting. However, I recall the actor possessing plenty of poise and speaking with a great deal of insight.
After watching “Love, Antosha,” I was compelled to look back at my interview with Yelchin. During our discussion, he said that ambiguity is a very painful feeling and made a comment about the dichotomy of the movie’s main character’s auras.
“You spend the whole film watching them put so much energy into staying together and live up to something that really does not exist anymore and pour themselves into it to come to a point where they get what they wanted and not know if they want it anymore,” Yelchin said. “That is just heartbreaking to me.”
Yelchin’s keen insight into the movie’s themes was just a small glimpse into the depth of his talent—a depth that I did not completely comprehend or appreciate until I watched “Love, Antosha.” But there was also a whole lot more to him than his performances in fun films like “Fright Night” and “Terminator: Salvation” and dramatic movies like “The Beaver” and “Rudderles.”
He was also one amazing young man whose touching displays of authentic affection for his parents are the bar that we should all try to live up to.