2016 has been a particularly bad year for celebrity deaths which are sadly a part of life and come in all shapes, sizes, ages and circumstances.
With a list of such recognisable names as David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, and Mohammed Ali there is at least recognition of celebrities that lived for long enough a time to have passed at a graceful age, so it’s with an especially heavy heart that we must now add actor Anton Yelchin’s name to that list.
The Russian-born, American actor died on Sunday, June 19th, at his Los-Angeles home as the result of what is being described as a ‘freak accident’ that saw him pinned by his car. He was 27 years of age.
Born Anton Viktorovich Yelchin on 11 March 1989 in Leningrad, Russia, he was emigrated to the United States with his figure skater parents when he was six months old and grew up with an interest in acting that saw him appear in his first role in an episode of hit TV drama ER at the age of 10.
He received recognition for his appearance opposite Anthony Hopkins in movie Hearts Of Atlantis in 2001, and went on to have a number of television roles in popular shows including Curb Your Enthusiasm and Without a Trace before a role in Steven Spielberg’s mini-series Taken, but it was with his role in 2006 kidnapping drama Alpha Dog that many audiences first really became aware of him. He had also voiced roles in The Smurfs movies, the English version of Studio Ghibli animation From Up on Poppy Hill, and the American language version of The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.
It wasn’t long before he was being cast in big-budget movies, with two major roles in 2009 – the first probably being his most recognisable role in JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise as Pavel Checkov, but it was the other, as Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation that stood out more to me, personally. Though it wasn’t the best of the franchise, he was playing a younger version of the role previously played by actor Michael Biehn and I could tell he had studied Biehn’s mannerisms to play a younger version of him so that he truly disappeared into the role – a sign of a great actor. It would have been nice to see him continue the role if they had brought him back for the next one.
He continued a series of roles in movies, often picking interesting roles in lieu of big titles that made him stand out as an actor of integrity. He starred in the troubled Jodie Foster directed movie The Beaver, the much underrated indie comedy horrors Fright Night and Odd Thomas, and indie drama with a splash of horror Only Lovers Left Alive. Recently he starred in shock horror thriller Green Room, with a fantastic performance that I recommend anyone with a strong stomach to seek out. It’s again an interesting indie role and was a sign of what would have been an undeniably great career had it not been tragically cut short.
Outside of his movie career, he was also a musician, playing guitar and piano and previously been a member of the band The Hammerheads.
Audiences will see him in a few upcoming roles yet to be released, most notably the third in the Star Trek series, Star Trek Beyond released later this year.
Our sympathies go out to his Parents, his family and his friends. He will be missed.