Anton Yelchin walks into Paris’s Hotel Plaza Athenee wearing a larger-than-life hat, which almost dwarfs the diminutive actor who features in of two of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Think Star Trek and Terminator Salvation and the upcoming New York, I Love You.
Purchased in Palm Springs, the hat turns out to be a Stetson, a brand as well known among hat aficionados as these franchises are to film fanatics. But the style is distinctly Yelchin’s own.
“It is actually a cowboy hat,” he explains, “but I flipped it down because I didn’t want to look like,” he pauses, “W”.
He is funny. And Yelchin clearly isn’t afraid to express his opinions, either in jest, when it comes to George W Bush, or in earnest when it comes to the roles he plays. He is also deadly serious about his work (being the son of two Russian athletes clearly paid off), which may be why Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) chose him to star in his short film on romance, New York, I Love You, an anthology of films by 11 directors including Jian Wen and Shekhar Kapur, which will be released in October.
At all of 20 years old, Yelchin hadn’t even been born when the Star Trek and Terminator franchises were launched, in 1966 and 1984 respectively, but that didn’t stop him going back to explore hundreds of hours of past materials and lobbying his directors with the resulting suggestions.
“I did a breakdown of [his Terminator character] Kyle Reese and pitched it to the director, McG, and said: ‘Here is who I think this guy is. This needs to be in the script’, ” he explains. “I filled his voicemail with messages and I would get text messages back saying, ‘I agree with you’. It is a nice environment to work in where you feel you have a voice and it really frees you up to experiment.”