While most only know Anton Yelchin from his excellent work in such
films as “Alpha Dog”, “Charlie Bartlett”, and “Fierce People”, he’s
about to gain a lot of new fans as he’s Pavel Chekov in director J.J.
Abrams “Star Trek”, and Kyle Reese in McG’s “Terminator Salvation”.
It’s a good summer for this rising star.
So when I got to speak with Anton for my one on one interview, I was
curious if he was apprehensive about signing onto two big franchises
that could potentially leave little room for other projects. While he
said that was a concern, he also revealed it was almost three
franchises, as he was signed onto “Justice League” before that project
fell apart. Who knows, if “Justice League” had gone in front of the
cameras, someone else might have been Kyle Reese.
Anyway, during our ten minute conversation, I tried to ask Anton
some questions he hadn’t been asked yet. While we started off in a
weird place talking about how the celebrity paparazzi culture has
changed in the past few decades, we did eventually get to “Star Trek”
and “Terminator”. If you’re a fan of this up and coming actor, I think
you’ll really enjoy the interview.
As always, you can either read the transcript after the jump or listen to our conversation by clicking here.
Collider: So I’m tried to come up with something that you have not
been asked because I would imagine…what’s it like for you to be doing
so much press in the last few weeks? Because you’re done a lot of
independent movies, and now you’re stepping up into like huge Hollywood
Anton Yelchin: Yeah, sure.
So what’s it like for you sort of talking about things in such detail or the promotional process?
Anton Yelchin: It’s kind of just it’s like part of the job,
you know? It’s not what I envisioned my job to be but it certainly
becomes a part of your job. You have to promote the movie that you
made. It’s weird. It makes me feel self-conscious to constantly talk
about myself and whatnot, but it’s nice when you have two movies you’re
proud of. It’s better than talking about movies you dislike and have
to promote. So it’s all right overall. It is a lot of talking and it
is a lot of projecting opinions and what have you and creating whatever
kind of…I guess it’s bizarre because everything sort of translates to
your public image or to construction of what people or who people see
you as, which is bizarre. I’d prefer that people only saw the work and
Well you haven’t been what I call a paparazzi project yet, where
people are stalking you or invading your privacy. And yet you’re
stepping into these franchises. Are you a little bit aware of what
that kind of…what happens when you start stepping into these big
Anton: I guess. I don’t really know - like you said - I’ve
never been part of it, but I think sometimes people put themselves out
there depending on…certain people, a lot of that is their whole careers
like being photographed. I think there are a lot of actors that you
know photographers take pictures of actors. Like a guy like Brad Pitt,
who I think is a very talented actor, gets pictures of him taken all
the time because he happens to have this celebrity side to him and yet
I personally think he’s a very talented actor.
Anton: And that’s the most important thing about him, at least for me.
He’s one of the rare people that I think, he’s a phenomenal actor and he just happens to be super-famous.
Anton: Exactly. But I think a lot of actors kind of avoid
that. I mean they avoid…we live in a more obsessed culture than it was
like 30 years ago, but a guy like Robert De Nero, I don’t think, got
followed around by the paparazzi everywhere but he’s Robert DiNero, you
I think there were paparazzi back…it’s interesting how our
conversation has shifted into something completely…but I think back
then there were tabloids and the people going after….but it’s become an
Anton: Right. That’s exactly what I mean. It’s been around. I mean, Fellini introduced it in La Dolce Vita, you know?
Anton: But there’s a greater obsession with celebrity now
and also there used to be an idea of glamour in celebrity as in you’d
have Hollywood premieres and you’d have guys like Cary Grant. But the
idea wasn’t to invade their privacy to find out dirty things about
them. I mean, JFK could sleep around with half the town and that
didn’t bother anyone. Bill Clinton gets a BJ and he gets…
Anton: Exactly, so that’s our culture. It’s a culture of
obsessive voyeurism and exhibitionism and I think that’s why that
happens so much more now. I feel like a guy like Brad Pitt 40 years
ago could just have been Brad Pitt and they would have been happy to
photograph him at premieres and see him at premieres and maybe a party
having a cocktail or two and that would have been it. But at this
point they’re photographing the guy playing with his kids in his
backyard or whatever. And especially with the idea of the Internet,
everything gets out there so if there’s a desire for that info, it’ll
be put out there and I think that’s a large part of it as well.
Well, you mentioned in the roundtable room how you’ve not really
heard of Twitter, but yet so many of your peers and filmmakers and
everybody are on this thing. Jon Favreau, on the set of “Iron Man II”,
is Twittering or Tweeting Scarlett Johansson just showed up and you’ve
never heard a crew get so quiet. You know, like instant info all
So do you ever see yourself being that sort of putting yourself out there that much?
Anton: No. To the extent I’d which I’d like to put myself
out there is I don’t mind making little weird YouTube videos but ones
I’m not in. You know, just things that I’m shooting and directing
briefly I’m putting out there because I want maybe people to see what
my vision of this world is, but they’re not going to be like “hey I’m
Anton Yelchin” like. They’re just going to be like weird videos.
Putting music out there that I make with my friends. That is something
I want to get out there just as part of the creative process but beyond
that, no I’m not going to be Twittering “hey guys I’m taking a shit
It always comes back to that. It’s funny. Well, let me jump into
actually moving from the celebrity culture into…you’re in two huge
franchises that happen to come out within two weeks of each other.
Both of which, I would imagine, make you sign a multi-picture deal
because they’re not going to jeopardize…they don’t want to have to deal
with contracts. They want to have people figured out.
How much hesitation for you was there signing onto two franchises
that could possibly film back-to-back for the next foreseeable future?
Anton: When I had signed onto “Star Trek” there was no
“Terminator” so it was kind of like “sure I’ll do this. This sounds
great! Hell yeah, I’ll do it”. It is something you have to take a
business consideration you have to take in because there might not be
room to make the other movies, but other than that I was kind of like,
you know, we’ll be lucky if we make more movies so let’s just make this
one and hope it turns out great. And then suddenly “Terminator” came up
and at the same time at that time they were going to be making a
“Justice League” and that came up and I was like “Wow. There’s three
Anton: So “Justice League” ended up falling apart
whatever-never happened. But I signed onto “Terminator” and the people
that I work with were saying what you’re signing up to is exactly what
you said. You could potentially be doing these back-to-back. And
there wasn’t going to be a way that I was going to pass on a movie like
“Terminator”. I was obsessed with this character since a young age and
it would be an honor for me to be a part of it and I’m lucky though
that it’s such a fascinating character because I think if was a
different character I’d have much more hesitation because I don’t mind
seeing where Kyle Reese goes for the next couple of films. I don’t
mind working through the paranoia and the anger and the vulnerability
that I started to work here in this picture and if we’re lucky
and–knock on wood–a couple more pictures. Because it will be an
interesting process to carry that character and continually work with
him almost like I guess theatre actors do on a play where they can find
kind of…I wonder if a theatre actor starts off with kind of a construct
of a character at the beginning and they’ve learned more about the
character by the end, you know, by the…
Anton: So it’s something that would be really interesting.
And with Chekhov it’s the same thing. I love these characters so I do
look forward to, if we’re lucky, coming back and being able to work
with them again and see what else I can pull out of them. So it’s
almost like they’ll be the same characters but I’ll see what I can do
to add another layer to them.
So how does it feel for you when you’re…the thing I’ve found I’ve
done a lot of set visits recently and I am constantly amazed at the
hours that everyone has to put in when making a movie. And no matter
how many times it’s said, I don’t think people who watch movies truly
understand the amount of time and energy everyone has to put in.
So how does it feel for you….”Star Trek” getting crazy reviews? I
mean people are falling over themselves in love with this film. Last
night everyone seemed to really dig “Terminator”.
So for you as an actor, how rewarding is it after putting in so much time and energy to hear this positive response?
Anton: I mean it’s obviously it’s great, you know? I try
though…the flipside to that positive response is a potential for
negative response and if you pay too much attention to the positive
response, you’re going to have to pay a lot of attention to the
negative response. The most rewarding thing for me is when I sit in a
movie theatre and I see the movie for the first time and I go, “Shit. I
like that movie.” And that’s what I felt watching “Star Trek”. I
loved it and I watched “Terminator” last week and I really, really
liked it as well. I really enjoyed it and I think they’re two totally
different movies. You know, “Star Trek” you come out loving it because
it’s a joyous film. You come out of “Terminator” and there’s this
exciting kind of heaviness that you have to deal with because it’s a
Terminator film and I love that too. So that is the most rewarding
thing. Also, to go on Rotten Tomatoes and see that out of 118 reviews
of “Star Trek” there’s 110 positive ones is pretty incredible and I’m
very proud and it’s pretty great.
I noticed the same thing yesterday.
Anton: Yeah, it’s insane. I was like Jesus-it’s 90-some positive.
Anton: So of course it’s rewarding and the hours are crazy.
I mean it’s so much hard work. I’ve talked to my friends about this a
lot. They just don’t really get it like it’s really hard work. I mean
“Star Trek” we had 20-hour days…like a couple 20-hour days. Like a
20-hour day is insane. I don’t think people get like…9-5 is the
average day. 20-hours is insane. So it’s more than twice
the average work day and people think you just…yeah there’s craft
service and catering and it’s nicer than standing on your feet all day
or flipping burgers or whatever, but it’s tedious because it’s
emotionally compromising for everyone–for the grips, you know? The
grips are getting pissed off because they’re tired of standing around
for 20 hours and watching the same scene. It’s a hard job. It’s a lot
of work to put that on-screen.
And that’s why when it gets right when so many people love something.
Anton: Yeah, it’s very rewarding yeah.
Absolutely. I know I’ve got to wrap up with you but what else are you working on right now or getting ready to work on?
Anton: Talking to Bill Macy about a film that he’s doing.
That’s pretty much it. Trying to find another interesting character to