Amidst the usual glitz and glamour of a red carpet, Monday night’s premiere of “Love, Antosha” had an air of seriousness bordering on reverence — even the reporters were nervous. And at the center of it all were Irina and Victor Yelchin, the parents of late actor Anton Yelchin.
“Anton deserved it, and everything that we’re doing. We’re trying to keep his legacy alive,” Victor Yelchin told Variety about his emotional experience on the red carpet outside Arclight Hollywood. “For me to watch this movie one more time, it’s a chance to give Anton another 1.5 hours.”
“And for me, I’m leaving in the middle of the film, when I know that something is coming,” Irina Yelchin added, referencing news footage surrounding her son’s death. “We can’t avoid it, that happened. But at some point, I’m coming back again because he’s again alive — he’s smiling, he’s kidding, he’s singing — so this film is definitely a celebration of Anton.”
Yelchin — whose prolific screen career included roles in “Star Trek,” “Fright Night,” and “Like Crazy” — died after a freak car accident in June 2016. The actor was only 27 years old. After their loss, Victor and Irina decided to share their son’s journey as an actor and his previously-undisclosed battle with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). To make the tribute film, the Yelchins turned to Drake Doremus (who helmed Anton’s 2011 film “Like Crazy”) to produce the project, which was directed by first-time filmmaker Garret Price.
“[Making ‘Like Crazy’] was such a special time in our lives where we were really growing up. [Anton] was like my little brother,” Doremus told Variety, adding that it was “such an honor” to be approached by the Yelchins. “To have this be the bookend of our relationship in a way is really beautiful and kind of dawning on me all day today how important this is and how special this is.”
“The very first thing Irina said to me after we showed for the first time was ‘Anton would have loved this. It’s the type of film he would’ve made, but he also would’ve hated it,’” Price chuckled, with Doremus adding that the actor would’ve been “very embarrassed” by all the attention. “He was the most humble person.”
“But the reaction….people have been so inspired by his creative passions and his tenacity and veracity. I think he would’ve loved [that],” Price continued. “He’s inspiring all these new people and people that knew him, they’re learning about things they never knew.”
Alongside his parents, some of Yelchin’s closest friends and former co-stars including his bandmates from The Hammerheads, Zelda Williams, Addison Timlin and “Star Trek Beyond’s” Sofia Boutella, walked the red carpet before the screening. Nearly 60 people were interviewed for the film — including Anton’s “Like Crazy” and “The Beaver” co-star Jennifer Lawrence, his “Star Trek” co-stars — as well as actors Martin Landau, Kristen Stewart, Ben Foster and Willem Dafoe, sharing their memories in what Variety review called “a touching and surprising portrait” of the late actor. At the request of Yelchin’s parents, Nicolas Cage provided the voiceover for the film reading some of Anton’s letters and journals, allowing the late actor to frame his own narrative.
Irina Yelchin says that making the movie was “very difficult,” but she’s been heartened by the support they’ve received from those that worked on the film and the fans anticipating it.
“I read a lot of comments after the trailer and one of the comments was ‘It’s good that they did this film because even though I didn’t know him, he was such a light, his light, he was so sweet,’” she shared. “He was so different from everyone, so that’s why we did this.”
While there many tears shed through the screening, the after party at Saint Felix Hollywood served as a celebration, with friends, family and the filmmakers raising a glass to Anton.
“Love, Antosha” debuts in Los Angeles on Aug. 2 and in New York on Aug. 9.