Three years after his death, Anton Yelchin's friends and family celebrate the actor's memory in a new documentary Love, Antosha    

By Kara Warner
August 09, 2019 11:45 AM
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To those who knew Anton Yelchin best, the Star Trek star was a playful “explorer” who lived life to its fullest.

Friends and family say that before his death in June 2016, when his Jeep rolled backward and pinned him to the driveway gate of his Los Angeles home, Yelchin made the most of his 27 years on earth by constantly exploring his own creativity, intelligence and having fun while doing it.

The actor’s playful personality and intellectual curiosity is on display in the new documentary Love, Antosha, which sheds light on the actor’s private life through interviews and home videos. It also reveals that Yelchin was living with cystic fibrosis, which he hadn’t yet shared publicly.

“He was going to come out and talk about it with the world,” says friend and former band mate David Glowacki.

To celebrate the release of Love, Antosha, Yelchin’s famous costars shared with PEOPLE their memories of a “bright” young talent gone too soon.

Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster on the set of 2011’s The Beaver
Icon/Kobal/Shutterstock

For more on Anton Yelchin and those who celebrate his memory in Love, Antosha, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

Jodie Foster, directed Yelchin in 2011’s The Beaver

“I loved his enthusiasm and how much fun he was. He and Jennifer Lawrence were very close and never stopped laughing. It was like witnessing teenagers ribbing each other, running around playing tag and talking with food in their mouths and having it dribble out. I just remember sitting at lunch with them and just laughing hysterically.

“I had a dream about him a very short period of time after he died, but it wasn’t really a dream. It doesn’t happen to me often, my mother-in-law had died as well, and the two of them were having a conversation. Anton had his curly hair and he was just rapid fire, telling a story. He was kind of fidgeting the way he fidgeted when he told stories, and giggling. That kind of sums up that memory that I have. It really felt like more of a memory than a dream.”

Willam Dafoe, costar in 2014’s Odd Thomas

“We became very good friends very quickly. I liked his attitude and his intellectual curiosity. We kept in touch with each other and very time he was in New York, he’d give me a call and I’d kind of do the same thing when I was in L.A., so even though there’s a big age difference between us, we got along very well and I loved talking with him.”

Bryce Dallas Howard, costar in 2009’s Terminator: Salvation

“The minute he opened his mouth you were hit by his genuineness and his warmth. I thought, wow, this kid was raised right. He’s going to make it, it’s going to work. He’s going to keep his mind healthy, he’s going to keep his soul stable, this is going to work. He embodied this very rare, very precious duality. He was grateful to his parents for the opportunities that they made possible. He lived in a place of appreciation, but was also pushing forward, never accepting the status quo.”

Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine in Star Trek Beyond
Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Kobal/Shutterstock

Chris Pine costar in three Star Trek movies

“He was an explorer, just interested in life. It was intense curiosity. Hindsight is everything. I don’t know if it’s because maybe he knew he didn’t have long, but he was ferociously invested in life. He wanted to eat it up and gobble it up whether it was an art or photography, music, his relationship with his parents, his relationship with his closest friends, traveling, reading and writing. He dove in head first and I think [that mind-set] is a good reminder to be grateful and curious and get off your ass and explore.”

Simon Pegg, costar in three Star Trek movies

“He was the baby [of the cast]. It was a real joy to watch him develop into an incredibly sharp, intelligent man. I used to love talking to him about film. I studied film at university and I had to really kind of dig into my old way of thinking in order to keep up in a conversation with him. I think he would have become an incredible filmmaker. He was great photographer. He had an amazing eye and a really interesting aesthetic.”

J.J. Abrams, directed Yelchin in 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Into Darkness

“He was a dream. He was incredibly talented, wickedly funny. He was as bright as people get. He was very young when we cast him [in Star Trek]. He was like 19 or 20, so he was this kid. But he was surrounded by these actors in their 20s and 30s, holding his own. He was incredibly ambitious. He had all sorts of plans. When we were doing the first Trek, he was translating this novel from Russian into English. In my eyes his capabilities were limitless. He was a very inspired person and someone for whom it feels wildly inappropriate and wrong to be talking about in the past tense.”

Love, Antosha is now playing in theaters.

  • With reporting by Gillian Telling