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Anton Yelchin: From Charlie Bartlett to Star Trek, his most memorable roles

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Anton Yelchin, who died Sunday at age 27, started acting when he was a child and went on to star in dozens of films ranging from big-budget blockbusters like the Star Trek series to smaller movies like 2011 drama Like Crazy to 2015 horror Green Room. Revisit eight of his most memorable roles below.

Alpha Dog (2006)

When Yelchin was just 17, he went to Sundance to debut Alpha Dog. While the work received mixed reviews, the young actor shined as a kid who’s kidnapped when his brother can’t pay back the money he owes. According to EW’s Sundance diary from the time, Yelchin “chatted excitedly, interrupting himself only to snap at his mother for obsessively rubbing his cold hands” at the screening and later remarked at the after-party that the entire experience was “pretty f—ing awesome.” Nick Romano

Charlie Bartlett (2007)

After working with Yelchin, Charlie Bartlett director Jon Poll described the young actor — still a teen at the time of filming — as “extraordinarily prepared and hardworking … and very deep and rich as well.” “Even though he’s a teenager,” Poll told Collider in 2008, “he’s got a wisdom beyond his years.” The same can’t quite be said for the film’s title character, a wealthy teen who pretends to be the school therapist in exchange for popularity. —Ariana Bacle

Terminator Salvation (2009)

“I have an aversion to remakes, which is ironic because I’m in two of them right now,” Yelchin told EW in 2009. “When I went back and watched T3 recently, I thought, ‘We need to make a better movie.'” So he joined director McG and a cast including Christian Bale and Sam Worthington to do just that: Terminator Salvation featured Yelchin as Kyle Reese, first played by Michael Biehn in The Terminator.  “The goal was always to adjust this movie to T1 as opposed to just making a new Kyle Reese,” Yelchin told The Guardian in 2009. “And as a Terminator fan, I thought that was the right thing to do, because that’s the movie you want to see, [and] he’s so iconic.” —NR

The Beaver (2011)

Although The Beaver, directed by and starring Jodie Foster, failed to garner critical praise or commercial success, EW singled out “the consistently wonderful” Yelchin’s “great live-wire performance” as a son struggling to navigate his complicated relationship with his severely depressed father (Mel Gibson). —AB

Like Crazy (2011)

For the romantic drama, Yelchin didn’t just recite lines: He improvised them, too. Director Drake Doremus and writer Ben York Jones crafted an outline for the film, but mostly let Yelchin and costar Felicity Jones create the naturalistic dialogue as they went along. The result is a hauntingly beautiful 90 minutes that, thanks to Yelchin and Jones’ performances, embodies both the euphoric highs and disastrous lows of young, obstacle-ridden love. —AB

Fright Night (2011)

Though it failed to generate much traction at the box office, the 2011 horror flick, a remake of the 1985 Tom Holland movie of the same name, has garnered a minor cult following in the five years since its debut. In the film, Yelchin plays a Las Vegas teenager who begins to suspect that his new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is actually a vampire. Thrilling, violent, campy, and just the right amount of fun for a genre film, Fright Night marked a change of pace for Yelchin as an actor, as he’d recently come off a string of successful franchise films (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation) and a popular romance that debuted at Sundance earlier that year (Like Crazy). “The most important thing about Fright Night to me is that Jerry is dangerous and scary, and that motivates the whole story. If you take that out of the equation, if Jerry is just a Twilight vampire, then you don’t give a s—, it becomes the same vampire s—,” Yelchin told Cinemablend of the project. “But here he’s a monster in the traditional sense of monster movies. Levels of camp and levels of self-consciousness can be modulated based on what you’re trying to achieve. But I felt there was something solid there.” —Joey Nolfi

Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Walter Koenig originated the role of Chekov in the Star Trek TV series, but he passed the baton to Yelchin for the new trilogy when it launched in 2009. “He’s a terrific young man and a talented actor,” Koenig told StarTrek.com at the time. Yelchin went on to reprise that role for the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. It was easy for the Russian-born actor to don Chekov’s famous accent, which is one of the things he took from Koenig’s portrayal of the character. “All of us had to make the choice of what we wanted to take from the original and what we wanted to bring to it,” Yelchin told Rotten Tomatoes in 2008. “There are certain things that I took, from the fact that [Koenig] replaced every ‘V’ with a ‘W’ which is weird. I don’t really know where that decision came from but regardless that’s the decision that he made and I thought it was important to bring that to the character.” —NR

Green Room (2015)

In the 2016 indie thriller Green Room, released in April, Yelchin plays a punk rocker who, along with his bandmates, becomes embroiled in the affairs of a murderous clan of neo-Nazi skinheads after playing a set at their seedy bar. Patrick Stewart, who starred in the original Star Trek film franchise prior to Yelchin boarding the revival series, also plays a pivotal role in the film, though the 27-year-old actor previously told The Huffington Post he didn’t dare bring up the connection to the English acting vet. “There was no reason for us to talk a lot at work. So I stayed away from that intentionally, and I think he did, too,” Yelchin said of his time on set with Stewart. “That’s the kind of wonderful thing about film culture, is the interaction between films and who works on what, where they were before, and now what they’re doing now, and that inevitably informs how people view a film … I don’t know that anyone, at a certain point in the movie, is really thinking that. I think they’re just so f—ed by the movie.” —JN

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