Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Christophe Beck “You’re Not Alone”
 Eels “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)”
 Derek & the Dominos “Key to the Highway”
 Spencer Davis Group “I’m a Man”
2016 has been a positively wretched year with regards to celebrity deaths. The number of icons who have been taken from us over the past six months is staggering and this awful trend shows no signs of slowing up as we head into the first day of the summer. Only yesterday, we were greeted with horrendous news and, with emotion already running high on Father’s Day, this one really hit home in the most undesirable way. The moment that Anton Yelchin started trending wildly on Twitter, my gut started to twist and, with well over 200k mentions and rapidly rising, I feared the very worst from the get-go. Trends play as a lottery and I have grown increasingly uneasy this year each time this one-armed bandit becomes activated. Even before the page loaded to confirm my fears, I knew it. Something didn’t feel right and it felt inevitable that this 27-year-old rising star was about to move on in the most desperately tragic manner imaginable. My heart plummeted to my stomach lining as the headline presented itself and remained there for a full ten minutes as I sat comatose, attempting to soak the intelligence in.
You see, Anton Yelchin was an actor whose progress I have been tracking rather intently for some time now. Indeed, this stretches back as far as my primary introduction to Yelchin in 2001, for Scott Hicks’ screen adaptation of Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis. He picked up a well deserved Young Artist Award for his performance as Bobby Garfield and got to ply his trade alongside the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Hope Davis, among others. He had already been active for a year and, in that time, had begun making in roads. However, this was to place him squarely under my microscope and I was deeply fascinated from his first frame to last. There was something about this young man, evident from the very offset, that set him apart from the many. I couldn’t quite place it and that excited me as aptitude is never more agreeable than when anonymous. Yelchin had this mystery in spades and certain secrets just cannot be taught.
It evidently wasn’t going to be long before somebody else prised something extraordinary from him but, in truth, our paths deviated for around six years until Jon Poll had the genius idea of pairing Yelchin and Davis up once more, again as mother and son, only this time tossing Robert Downey Jr. into the mixing pot, standing well back, and observing some chemistry. Charlie Bartlett arrived hot on the heels of Jason Reitman’s Juno and Yelchin took to the titular role with great relish. Here he played unflappable rich kid, kind of like a Ferris Bueller for the download generation, and nailed that shit like the donkey tail that it was straight into the ass of the jack. In short, there was a self-assurance about his turn that meshed beautifully with the boy next door image he clearly had in his armory. Here was your everyday kid, only not regular in the slightest. Those green eyes twinkled with an intensity that I found myself reaching for and that is the mark of a truly great actor in the making. With a little guidance, he was about to become the household name he already was in my domain. You’re damn skippy I was spilling with thrill for him.
Needless to say, I wasn’t at all surprised two years later when he bagged the roles of Kyle Reese in McG’s Terminator Salvation and, the part he is perhaps best known for, Chekov in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. The latter ensured that his name was now on the edge of everyone’s lips and tremendous things were now destined. You see, actors like Yelchin don’t come about every day, week, or even year. On one hand, he had wide-eyed wonderment truly down to pat, while the other revealed age way beyond his 27 years. Inside him was an old soul, gentle and unassuming, but positively teeming with wisdom. I know this as he nourished it habitually, possessed a thirst for knowledge, and a zeal for life and love which his close friends and loved ones would vouch for infinitely. Born in Leningrad, formerly of the USSR, and of Jewish origin, his path into motion pictures was absolutely no accident. His parents, Irina and Viktor were celebrated figure skaters, his grandfather a professional soccer player, whereas Anton chose a different way to reach for his own personal apex.
At six-months-old, Anton’s parents emigrated to the United States and he was barely out of diapers before he revealed his passion for movies. After attending acting classes in Los Angeles, he was promptly picked up by casting agents and made his television debut at the tender age of ten for E.R. Over the next sixteen years he amassed 65 credits and they were just taking off into the stratosphere when this tragedy struck. In 2011 he took on the role of Charley Brewster in Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night remake and, two years later, presented us with Odd Thomas for the maiden outing of the creation of another literary genius, James Herbert, under the direction of Stephen Sommers. There was a common theme with both characters as here was a small town boy with edge, foresight, and considerable rearguard, given his delicate looks. Joe Dante’s Burying The Ex benefitted massively through pairing him with Alexandra Daddario, but this was no coincidence as the likes of Kat Dennings, Ashley Sommers, and Imogen Poots had already lined up to hold his hand. And not once did it feel like his character had punched above his weight. We knew there was something about this guy, so did the ladies, and there’s your leading man right there.
One look at his vast résumé and you will know that Anton had a thing for fantasy, science fiction, and horror. As a self-confessed junkie for all of the aforementioned, it felt like such a gift that he had elected to donate a hefty wedge of his craft to feeding our yearning receptors. Of his recent works, Jeremy Saulnier’s taut thriller Green Room is at the very top of my watch list, and will now have additional poignancy when I settle down to soak it in. Moreover, every last one of his films is now tasked with providing the most scant of consolation as I drink in every picosecond of his screen time. However, for as much as I was heartbroken on receipt of this news, I don’t wish to mourn right now as I’m assured that wouldn’t be how he’d want this played. Somebody like Anton Yelchin, someone who celebrates life through living it to the nth degree and way beyond, must be honored accordingly. This way transcends aptitude and, instead, is about a soul whose light shines brightest of all. Right now it may feel as though that light has been snuffed out unduly, and it has, but it only need be a flicker. By fanning this flame, we allow it to burn on, and its glow will be felt forevermore thanks to our brief but ever-enduring association.
A common word thrown about on Twitter amongst his close friends around the time that the news broke was the F-Bomb and it seems only right that I break formation to get something off all of our chests. Indeed, I encourage you all to join me in chorus as I wish 2016 one huge almighty FUCK YOU! and move swiftly on. You see, there is a celebration to be had, and it involves a mercurial young man by the name of Anton Yelchin and the treasure that scattered wide and far during his twenty-seven-year visit. Heaven may no longer be missing this angel, but I have no intention of doing so either, as he isn’t going anywhere. His work is still here, will remain here in full blossom, his fleeting harvest was as ripe as it was resplendent, and he truly ventured where few men had gone before. Sounds like cause for celebration right? You’re damn right it is, Anton would have it no other way.
Anton Viktorovich Yelchin 1989-eternity