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Celebrating Anton Yelchin With 5 of His Best Roles

Today would have been Anton Yelchin’s 31st birthday. The talented actor tragically died four years ago leaving heartbreak and a brilliant catalog of work in his wake. To celebrate the wonderful life of Anton Yelchin we’ve selected five of our favorite performances and the films that featured them.

Green Room
A punk band plays a rowdy room in a dive bar..

A24

One of the best horror movies ever made, Green Room redefines the trapped room subgenre. Yelchin and his touring punk band try to escape the clutches of the neo nazis who run the hole in the wall that they made the mistake of playing. With a solid “fuck nazis” message and Patrick Stewart playing one of the most terrifying on-screen villains we’ve ever seen, Green Room is nothing short of brilliant. Yelchin gives a career-great turn as a quiet musician turned nazi-killing survivor. Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots, and Callum Turner also star in Jeremy Saulnier’s searing follow up to Blue Ruin. It will make you reconsider your plans for a road trip.

Thoroughbreds
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Focus Features

An underrated modern gem, Thoroughbreds is a startling meditation on mental health, friendship, and murder. The indie drama follows the friendship between Anya Taylor Joy’s popular and put together Lily and Olivia Cooke’s Anna, recently diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder. As the pair begin to plot a crime, Yelchin becomes entangled in their plans as an unusually awful character who thinks nothing of lusting after and selling weapons to teenage girls. Though it’s an unpleasant one, the role makes a radical statement on the kind of men who desire the attention of young girls. Raher than glamorize him, he’s consistently played as a creep and fool. At 90 mins, there’s no reason to miss this brilliant little crime thriller. Plus, it features one of the most effective and interesting scores of the decade.

Only Lovers Left Alive
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Pandora Films

Jim Jarmusch’s gorgeous vampire romance took the classical literary monsters and threw them into modern day Detroit. Yelchin stars alongside Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton’s bloodsucking duo Adam and Eve as Ian, the pair’s only true connection to the human world. He’s sweet, passionate for guitars, and has infinite patience for Hiddleston’s crankiness. These make him a wonderful juxtaposition to the droll pair, and the uncontrollable new addition to their undead family played by Mia Wasikowska. This beautiful entry into the vampire canon is a must watch for fans of horror, arthouse film, and Yelchin and still stands as one of Jarmusch’s best films.

Fright Night
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Disney, Dreamworks

This reboot of the classic ’80s horror was far better than it had any right to be. Much of that was due to Yelchin’s ever endearing performance as Charley. Young, cool, and living his best life, Charley seems to have it all. That is, until his new neighbor (Colin Farrell) arrives and strange things begin to happen. Yelchin makes Charley likable, and more importantly, believable. This is key when you need to convince those around you that the handsome guy who just moved in is a vampire. Though remakes often bore or feel unnecessary, Fright Night is non-stop fun, with Yelchin as its heart at the center of a brilliant cast and bonkers tone.

Star Trek
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Paramount Pictures

Yelchin’s performance as teenage navigator Pavel Chekov is a bright spark in the shiny but often sometimes humorless blockbuster Star Trek reboot trilogy. The bright re-imagining of Gene Rodenberry’s sci-fi series was filled with conflict and chaos. Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock defy their egos to join forces against a dangerous Romulan threat. Chekov brings a heart and optimism to the ship as well. He’s one of the few voices who can cut through the massive egos aboard the USS Enterprise. Action-packed, slick, and filled with memorable moments, the modern Star Trek trilogy offers up a fun and fresh take on the series.

Header Image: A24