Anton Yelchin: From indies to blockbusters

'Charlie Bartlett' thesp finds 'Salvation' in biz

With 30 roles in a decadelong career, 20-year-old Anton Yelchin went from respected indie actor (“Charlie Bartlett,” “Alpha Dog”) to blockbuster star this summer by booking iconic roles in “Star Trek” (as young Russian Starfleet officer Pavel Chekov) and “Terminator Salvation” (playing Kyle Reese).

“I’d be bored doing the same thing,” Yelchin says. “One of the beautiful things about this job is you can see how many different sides of yourself exist and imaginary things you can experience.”

From the outset, Yelchin made a pact with his parents that he would only act for the right reasons. When his first audition resulted in booking a Chuck E. Cheese commercial, it became his first and last TV spot. “My parents just wanted me to enjoy myself,” he says. “We decided if I didn’t enjoy it, that was that.”

So Yelchin focused on the bigscreen, which has become his obsession. “Everything I learn about or read, I apply in one way or the other to filmmaking. I’m a movie nerd,” he says. “Filmmaking is the greatest, most relevant art form out there. I think it’s the most intimately connected to our culture and our experience in the world.”

Yelchin, who also portrayed a teen with prom-date issues in the 2009 anthology “New York, I Love You,” is currently co-starring with Mel Gibson in “The Beaver” — a film far less scandalous than it sounds, he insists. “People always want to make sort of erotic reference, like it’s an artsy porn,” says Yelchin, who plays the son of a repressed man who speaks only through a hand puppet.

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