It’s a hell of a month for Anton Yelchin. Not only does he give a very memorable (and frankly, adorable) performance as the excitable teenage Pavel Chekov in the massively successful revamp of Star Trek, but he’s also playing the younger version of the dirty and scrappy rebel Kyle Reese, the father of John Connor in Terminator: Salvation. Michael Biehn originated the role of the man sent back in time to save John’s mother Sarah from Arnold Schwarzenegger in James Cameron’s first Terminator, and now Yelchin is charged once again with reinterpreting a character for a new generation and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“I was always a huge fan of the first two films, definitely,” Yelchin says. “They had a profound impact on me. It was huge. Arnold was the archetypal 90s hero, and if you’re growing up and you’re 4 or 5 years old and you see Arnold, it has a profound effect on you. To be a part of it, I was honored. To play Kyle Reese, who is another one of those heroes you look up to when you’re younger and have action figures of and pretend to be – it was an honor and I was also really touched. Every day on set, I would be so touched by the chance to be there and to cock a shotgun one-handed and say ‘come with me if you want to live.’ Michael Biehn is so iconic.”
Before this month, Yelchin has generally been known for his indie movie work, like Charlie Bartlett, but now he’s in the stratosphere.
“It’s kind of weird to go from movies that cost 3 to 4 million dollars to movies that cost a hundred of those. It’s incredible. I’ve been really lucky to be able to play two very compelling characters in two totally different films, even though they’re both sci-fi, and to be able to find things that I admire and find challenging about these characters. The process of reinterpreting a character is also really fascinating and it’s something that I haven’t ever done before. That’s how I felt with Star Trek, and all of a sudden I’m reinterpreting a different character – it’s very surreal. Aside from the fact that these are huge movies, the thing that I love about this craft is that it’s challenging and fascinating in every way. These were challenges that I loved taking on.”
When asked which character he’d rather be, he was a little indecisive at first. “I’d be Chekov Reese? They’re very different. I’d love to be a gun-wielding badass. I’d love to be sitting here with a shotgun right now and just go *chk-chk* every time I’m asked a question. So I guess I’d be Kyle Reese.”