The Life and Death of Anton Yelchin
Anton Viktorovich Yelchin had all the signs of a star in the making. He portrayed one of the most iconic characters in one of the most iconic franchises ever as his debut into the public eye.
Although Anton Yelchin was in Alpha Dog, Troll Hunters, and Parents – including working for Steven Spielberg as a child actor – it was his portrayal of Pavel Andreievich Chekov in Star Trek that seemed to be catapulting him into a household name.
He is now immortalized in films that will last decades if not farther into the future (I mean technically they will be around as long as humans are), but his untimely death came much too soon for the many of us who were looking forward to seeing what became of his career.
He was an incredibly humble man who was much beloved by both his fans and those he worked with.
Anton Yelchin’s Early Life
Anton was born in the USSR in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) to a Russian Jewish family. Both of his parents were ballet figure skaters who qualified for the Olympics under the Soviets. They were not permitted to compete, however. It is not known if this was due to their heritage or the KGB’s fear of letting them travel.
In interviews, Anton commented that he could not even imagine the pressures and hardships his parents must have faced while living under the regime of Lenin. He has also stated that he was quite proud of his Russian heritage – not the communism or penchant for totalitarians, but of the literature and culture.
Anton was fluent in Russian and remarked on a number of occasions about the power of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and of the emotional undertones of Sergei Rachmaninov’s music and the Russian people in general.
Regardless of whatever measures the Soviets took to keep them there, Anton’s parents moved to the United States in 1989. Anton was six months old at the time. His parents became figure skating coaches in the United States.
As a child actor Anton would appear in a number of films and television series. Early Anton Yelchin movies and shows include: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fright Night, and Taken. Other notable roles include a part in Showtime’s series Huff and Criminal Minds.
He would eventually costar along with Justin Timberlake in the crime drama Alpha Dogs. Yelchin’s role in Alpha Dogs was applauded by the mother of the real life victim he portrayed. Anton also starred in Charlie Bartlett and Like Crazy.
Anton also played for the disbanded punk band, the Hammerheads at one time. In one of the last films he starred in, The Green Room, he plays a punk kid who comes head to head with a gang of skinheads. In the interviews for that release he could not help but express his interest and passion for Punk music and the culture around it.
Shortly before his death Anton Yelchin also worked on the fantasy animated series Trollhunters for Guillermo del Toro. Although he died shortly before its premier, he had completed voice-overs for two full seasons.
It’s rather ironic that Anton’s world-wide recognition stemmed from his Star Trek role as Chekov, given that he was not a big fan of the big Hollywood industry and had a natural affinity for quirky indie films. But he said his Trek experience taught him a lot about the making of a huge blockbuster and he thoroughly enjoyed his co-stars. Read ‘Beyond Star Trek’ by Lawrence M. Krauss on Geeker for more about the people behind the Star Trek series.
Anton Yelchin’s Death
Anton Yelchin’s official death cause was deemed a freak accident. He had exited his Jeep Grand Cherokee while it was on a steep incline. For whatever reason, the vehicle rolled down the slope and pinned him between the car and a brick wall. Supposedly the impact crushed his lungs, and he succumbed to his injuries shortly after. Technically, his death was due to “blunt traumatic asphyxia”. He was discovered the next day and pronounced dead. A recall for the same vehicle was sent to his home 7 days after his death.
Anton Yelchin’s age at the time of death was 27 years old.
His career from the beginning was associated with significant names and stellar performances. Although he was never able to reach his maximum potential, his becoming part of the “27” club (a strange age a number of talented musicians and artists seem to die at) has added to the sense of loss around someone who was clearly destined to entertain us for years to come.