Ever since he took on Chekov's accent in 'Star Trek,' Anton Yelchin's stock has been steadily rising. He's everywhere you look lately: playing a dysfunctional teen in 'The Beaver' alongside Mel Gibson, fighting vampires in the form of Colin Farrell in 'Fright Night' and, most recently, taking the lead role in indie romantic drama 'Like Crazy.'
Directed by Drake Doremus ('Douchebag,' 'Spooner'), 'Like Crazy' features performances that are almost 100 percent improvised -- there is no script. Yelchin's love of movies brought him on board, to the point where he sacrificed a real-life relationship to complete the film. He sat down with Moviefone earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about long-distance love, getting swallowed up in the role and the torture of co-starring with a very sexy Jennifer Lawrence.
This movie is dead-on in its depiction of long-distance relationships. Have you had experiences of your own?
Yeah, inevitably with this job, every relationship becomes a long-distance relationship. I've only had two serious relationships in my life, and they both lasted a couple years. And out of those couple of years, I'd be gone for 9 months. Eventually it puts a massive strain on it, especially if there are trust issues. Those trust issues tend to consume and destroy the relationship. It's tough.
Did those girls see you on a red carpet with another woman or something?
No, not exactly. But in every movie, there's a female lead too. Say I'm in a film and I'm not the lead, there's always some attractive girl in it. That's Hollywood. Even if you're not attracted to that person, and you're not intending on being unfaithful, you're attracted to them in the sense that you like them, they're great, and that makes your partner uncomfortable. I spend every f-cking day with this person, they're cool!
There are tons of cool shots in this movie, meant to illustrate your separation. There's always something between you and Felicity Jones [his co-star] -- glass, walls, the ocean...
Especially the first date. I said this to Drake after I saw the movie. I said that that shot told the story right away, that there would always be something in between them. On their first date, you never see them together. They're consistently kept apart by this space.
How much of an effect did this role have on you personally, especially since it was mostly improvisation?
You lose your life when you enter this world. It was like I forgot what my life was. At the time -- my girlfriend and I are no longer together -- she and I saw each other once during that whole month. It still makes me sad, but you either commit to one thing or another, and I always pick movies. It's my life; I don't know what that says about me, but movies are what I love. So I saw her once, and I remember going "Whoa..." It's a weird f-cking thing when you think in your head "That's who you are. You're my girlfriend. I love you. You're funny, smart, cool, and sexy." I forgot all those things. I didn't even remember what it was like to sleep with her because I was in this world the whole time. I was Jacob.
You can see it in the movie. When you're apart from Felicity's character, you look miserable and all-consumed.
The thing is, it's a really magical and insane experience. You lose sight of everything else except that person. Jacob is a lot more quiet and contained than I am. That's not how I am in relationships. If anything I ruin relationships by being so aggressive and angry. He's passive and everything is internalized, which is why he's tired all the time, so f-cking tired. He wants to text her, but doesn't text her. Once we wrapped, I was like -- we're done with this thing. We filmed for a month, tops, but it felt like years. They age, and get progressively more broken by this thing. I felt drained, like I worked six months.
A lot of this movie is based on looks, meaning a look conveying everything rather than speech. Was that something you guys were told to do?
No, we weren't told anything. The takes would last 12-15 minutes, often until the camera's sensor burned out. There were many times when I forgot that they were even filming.
Also interesting: we never saw you have sex with Felicity's character, which is odd considering the movie is about your relationship. We do see you have sex with Jennifer Lawrence's character, though.
I think it's great. I've never spoken to Drake directly about this, but I've heard him talk about it. We shot a sex scene, maybe one or two, between Felicity's character and I. I thought they weren't necessary. Their relationship isn't about sexual tension; you know they're going to be connected when they're having sex. But I thought it was necessary to have the sex scenes with Jen's character, to show the distance from one another. I also think the no-sex thing makes Jacob's relationship all the more poignant on-screen. You just see their moments of love with one another.
You also had Jennifer Lawrence as your love interest in 'The Beaver' -- maybe you guys are meant to be lovers on-screen?
I'm very grateful for that, for many different reasons.
Well, she is pretty hideous.
Yeah, she certainly could be a little more attractive. It's tough. No, but really, she's super-talented. Coolest girl. She's badass, from Kentucky, and grew up with a bunch of brothers. She doesn't take sh-t from people. She's so different from Sam [her character], who's so gentle and fragile. I love working with Jen. She's my friend... and I hope I get to work with her again.
You should get her to get you into 'The Hunger Games.'
I should be! I'll just be in the bushes: "Jen! Katniss! Hey! Over here!"
'Like Crazy' is out in select cities on Friday.
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