When Stephen Sommers, the director, told me there was only one person he wanted for the role of Odd Thomas and that his choice was “the best actor of his generation,” I had never heard of Anton Yelchin. I was dubious. Then I educated myself and began to think Steve might have made a good choice. When I saw the finished film with a test audience, within five minutes, Anton had so knocked me out with his performance that I couldn’t see anyone else as Odd.
On that same day, Gerda and I met Anton and spent some time with him, and he was no less impressive as a person than he was as an actor. In a business where ego runs rampant, he was humble, almost shy. Intelligent, sensitive, and kind. We spent time as well with his parents, in particular with his mother, a gracious and engaging lady, and his affection for them was evident and touching. My job requires a vivid and flexible imagination, but I cannot imagine the depth of the pain felt now by those close to Anton, who loved him and knew there were great things in his future, as surely there were.
Bleak as these words of William Faulkner may be, they are also inspiring and true, reminding us of how each of our lives affects others for the better: “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.”