Anton Yelchin likes Like Crazy
The actor talks up his buzz-generating romantic film.
Actor Anton Yelchin poses for a photograph while promoting his film "Like Crazy" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)
He may only be 22, but Anton Yelchin knows about relationships. So the young star of big budget fare like "Star Trek," "Terminator Salvation" and the recent "Fright Night" remake was eager to take a turn for the indie with "Like Crazy," director Drake Doremus's much-acclaimed follow-up to his 2009 feature "Douchebag."
"Like Crazy" stars Yelchin as Jacob, an L.A.-based furniture design student who falls in love with Anna (Felicity Jones), a British exchange student who overstays her visa in order to spend the summer with him. The result, however, is that when she does leave the country she is not allowed to return. The couple then spend the next few years in a long-distance relationship, trying to stay together against increasingly overwhelming odds.
"In a relationship, when things are really great, sometimes you don't need to speak," he says during a conversation at the Toronto International Film Festival. "And you don't want to say anything, you enjoy the other person. And then sometimes, when it gets really dark, you don't know what to say. There's just that silence. And sometimes that silence can last a day with a couple, and then other times you don't want to stop talking. Especially the first time [Jacob and Anna] are going to be apart, there's that fear of losing one another. So at dinner, they are trying to say things to one another that are optimistic, but inevitably they still stay stuck, and the silence just creeps in."
While he declines to give details, Yelchin says that he identifies with Jacob's dilemma.
"I have had a relationship where the person is really difficult and troubled in some ways. And I probably fed off of that in a lot of ways because there's something bizarre about a relationship where you feel needed."
The film's short but intense production schedule meant that Yelchin plugged into his character quickly and intensely.
"Because we shot six-day weeks and we shot long days and we were just there all the time, I forgot there was a world outside this realm," he says. "It was like you were just part of it all the time and you just become that person. I was just that person for so long, and it becomes very personal. It's a mindf*** to say the least but kind of a beautiful one."
Part of Yelchin's research included meeting with an L.A.-based furniture designer named Dakota who not only provided insight into his character's job but his mindset as well.
"He spoke a lot about being very connected to [his furniture] because of a lack of connection in our culture," he says. "And global capitalism is all based on reproduction and turnover time and how fast can you put out these things so that it breaks and you put out the next things. And his idea was all about connecting to your furniture and feeling something personal there, the permanence. That to me was mind-blowing when I heard him speak because our whole film was about trying to get permanence and connection. So that's really what I used for Jacob, was that he opens up into his art. And it's so funny because when he opens up to [Anna] his art starts to flourish too."
Yelchin decided to work with Doremus after watching his acclaimed Sundance film "Douchebag" and being convinced by the young director's enthusiasm.
"He works really well with actors," he says about Doremus. "He's very sensitive to knowing how to create a space for actors, because it's so personal what was going on. There were barely any people on set; just the operator and him a lot of the time and the sound operator Steve. And we were in bed together and we were in shower scenes together. He creates an environment perfect for this sort of experimentation, and he is so sensitive to what you are giving out at all times. He's one of the most sensitive filmmakers I've worked with. So it's really all you can ask. He's such an actor's filmmaker. He's so determined to find the most truthful moments he can find."
Yelchin hopes that the general public relates to "Like Crazy," especially given how many people find themselves in his character Jacob's dilemma.
"I think we all experience it," he says, "especially when you don't know what's going on with your relationship. It just is like a cold, weird, sad feeling. Not sad in a heartbreaking way but just sad, where you don't feel like crying necessarily but you just are kind of lost. That was what I felt when we were shooting."
And while "Like Crazy" ends on an unsettled note -- we're not quite sure what the state of Jacob and Anna's relationship is going forward -- Yelchin thinks that the movie has the perfect ending.
"I think it's just best to leave it at that," he says. "It's just that ambiguous place. It's much more interesting than that definite answer, I think."