Remembering Anton Yelchin's Greatest Film Roles - Rolling Stone
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Remembering Anton Yelchin’s Greatest Film Roles

From ‘Star Trek’ to ‘Green Room,’ we look back at 27-year-old actor’s finest roles

Anton Yelchin, Memorable, Acting, Roles, Rolling Stone

From 'Star Trek' to 'Green Room,' we take a look back at actor Anton Yelchin's finest roles.

Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount/Everett

Anton Yelchin was extraordinary, starting right from his first days of life. Born to a pair of Jewish figure skaters in what was then still the USSR, his family withstood enough prejudicial treatment and political oppression to afford them refugee status from the United States, where the Yelchin clan moved while Anton was still an infant. It was a long way to go for a man who went very far.

The 27-year-old's shocking death this past weekend was deeply saddening for all of the obvious reasons – the senseless cruelty of happenstance, the loved ones wracked with bereavement – but his youth made this particularly painful. Having long since established his bona fides as a talented performer consistently challenging himself with diverse roles, he was only just beginning what would've been a long, rich career.

As we sort through our own grief and induct another member to the dreaded "27 Club," the most meaningful tribute we can pay is to appreciate the outstanding performances Yelchin turned in while he was still alive. A few years out from 30, and he had already worked with exciting directors in well-reviewed independent films and proved his star-power in big-budget blockbusters. Here, we recall seven of his most memorable film roles.

Anton Yelchin, Memorable, Acting, Roles, Rolling Stone

STAR TREK, Anton Yelchin, 2009. Ph: Industrial Light & Magic/©Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount/Everett

‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ (2013)

Yelchin took a more minor role in Jim Jarmusch's cooler-than-cold-blood vampire drama, portraying a grungy groupie gratefully running errands for Tom Hiddleston's bloodsucking rock & roll recluse. Yelchin's appearance in this film is most telling when considered for what it represents; he had a serious love for his craft, and had no reservations about taking second-tier billing if it would give him the chance to work with a highly regarded filmmaker. The best actors are the ones who genuinely love film, and in his eclectic selection dotted with esteemed auteurs, Yelchin asserted himself as an artist in his own right.

Anton Yelchin, Memorable, Acting, Roles, Rolling Stone

STAR TREK, Anton Yelchin, 2009. Ph: Industrial Light & Magic/©Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount/Everett

‘Green Room’ (2015)

Cooped up in a neo-Nazi clubhouse with no way out other than a drag-down fight, Yelchin and his punk bandmates made for unlikely heroes. But that was the genius of the film, and the brilliance of Yelchin himself: Regardless of a role's extraordinary circumstances, he gave a rational, recognizable human being's response to it. Green Room, then, is an action flick where the hero spends the entire film scared shitless, searching frantically for a makeshift weapon with which to defend himself. Far from a dauntless John McClane type, Yelchin played his part with reasonable terror, as if one of your college-dropout buddies had stumbled into a pulpy thriller. It's perhaps that quietly brilliant quality of regular-guy-ness that it still feels like such a personal loss.

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