I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch Star Trek Beyond in July. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to watch it this year. All I’ll be able to think about is Anton and the senselessness of losing someone so young. And my grief is nothing compared to the loss felt by his family and friends.
The first time I saw Anton perform was in 2009’s “Star Trek.” He played a bright, excited, innocent Chekov and I was instantly charmed by his energy. I later saw him in “Charlie Bartlett” where he played a thoughtful, deeply sad, lost teen. He broke my heart. His ability to take a character and make you feel what they felt was extraordinary. He had so much talent, so much heart.
It’s times like these when you question reality. Did it really happen? And why? Why did we lose him so early, when he had so much life left to live? What would he have done if he had been given a few more decades?
He’d already done so much — and such good — work. But when someone’s life is cut tragically short, it begs the question: what else would they have been part of that will now never be? What would the rest of his life have looked like?
Death is cruel. Whenever someone passes away, it doesn’t just leave us with that one raw wound: it brings to mind every other person we’ve lost and we’re forced to re-live those feelings of helplessness and grief all over again. Death changes those who are left, shapes us into different creatures.
We’ve lost some incredible people this year. And we’ll continue to lose them. That’s the cycle. And it’s harsh and I wish there was something, anything we could do about it. But we can’t. All we can do is remember the ones we’ve lost and keep them alive in our memories.
When I learned about Anton’s passing, I immediately thought of Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, David Margulies, and Michelle McNamara, who we’ve lost this year, as well as people we’ve lost in previous years, like Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, and Heath Ledger.
I hope that, whatever afterlife there is, in whatever form, that these people are at peace, happy and free from the pain that life can bring.
Meanwhile, we will grieve their loss. Whenever I go to watch something of Anton’s, I’ll think about my favorite picture of him, the perfect encapsulation of the person he was:
He was, by all accounts, a gentle, sensitive, inquisitive soul, with a love of animals, literature, and music. With messages of love pouring in from those who knew him best, we get to see one more glimpse of the sort of person Anton was.
In a handwritten note released via Twitter, J.J. Abrams, who directed Anton in the rebooted Star Trek franchise had this to say:
“Anton – You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren’t here nearly long enough. Missing you…JJ” There really isn’t much more to say than that.
Anton Yelchin’s projects will continue to be released into 2017. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that he is gone but that part of him will be with us forever. It’s too tragic to be bittersweet, but there’s a tinge of relief to it, all the same. Because we will still be able to see his face, hear his laugh, and marvel at his ability.
I hope that seeing him on screen at the premiere of “Star Trek Beyond” will give some comfort to his co-stars, many of whom have expressed their feelings of loss via social media. Maybe it will allow them to re-live some of the best moments they shared with him.
We’ll miss you, Anton Yelchin. Thank you for sharing part of your life with us, and for telling such beautiful stories.