''If there's one thing I want you guys to walk away with tonight... uh, it's that you guys don't need me. I really mean it. You think I'm any less screwed up than you are? I get up every morning, and I look in the mirror, and I try and figure out just where I fit in. And I draw a complete blank. You guys are looking to me to tell you what to do? You need to stop listening to me. Stop listening to people telling you who you should be! And stop listening to the people who are telling you you're not good enough to do the things that you want to do. You guys have all the answers.'' - Charlie Bartlett
I'm still finding it hard to put into words the effect of losing Anton Yelchin is having on me. Just over a week has passed since hearing the tragic news of a talent gone way too soon and yet I'm still reeling. I first discovered the joy of watching Yelchin in the film Charlie Bartlett (2007), a film I had stumbled on a few years ago in my quest to feast upon the acting prowess of Robert Downey Jr. On watching this little gem, it was very difficult to concentrate on Downey due to him being outshone by the main protaganist as portrayed by Yelchin. I was blown away by his on-screen presence, his ability to go from innocently cheeky to heart-wrenglingly vulnerable, and I wanted to find out more.
From watching Charlie Bartlett, I would always keep my eye on Yelchin's career and would always delight in hearing a new role he was cast in. A man dedicated to his job, you would never hear stories that would cause your heart to sink, never hearing about any cliches that fall upon fellow Hollywood child stars. It was refreshing to not see him pop up in tabloids in a transparent way to gain publicity; why would he need to, he had enough desire to be known as a hard-working individual who had a love for the film artform, rather than trying to win a popularity contest. This was evident in the career that he had started to build.
The range that he already had in his untimely short career was astounding, every single performance filled with wonder. Even films that I didn't really have an overwhelming impulse to see, I made sure I had time for due to his presence - films such as the Fright Night (2011) remake (which, actually, is not too bad a film that stands on its own, helped increasingly by Yelchin in the lead role). I remember watching Terminator Salvation (2009) at the cinema and being quite taken by the actor who portrayed Kyle Reese, the only redeeming factor from an otherwise lackluster film. I was delighted when I realised it was Anton Yelchin (I was slow on the uptake, ok?). Hungry for more captivating performances, I revelled in every mention of upcoming films featuring Yelchin, right up to the recent release of Green Room (2016). A premise that I was intrigued by plus Patrick Stewart featuring as a despicable villain, I ended up missing the cinema release but still had it on my list of must-see films. A film that, when watching on DVD release, will hold a bittersweet aftertaste as I'm sure viewers of the latest Star Trek will experience next month when it's due for a cinematic release.
I'm stunned that there will be no more excitement in hearing a new film that will showcase his skills, no more will I get to see his innocent yearning in discovering each new challenge. I urge you, if you haven't already, to watch his backlog of films and discover this amazing actor. His legacy will live on in the films that he did get to make and for that, I will be forever grateful. Let's not dwell on what could have been but instead delight in the gifts he has left for generations to come.