On set, he is charming and pleasant, goofy and eager to please. He takes time to admire the clothing, to speak with the stylist and assistants, to name his favorite brands. (Dior and Balenciaga for what it’s worth, though he’s “on a preppy kick at the moment.”) He gets on all fours to joke with the photographer and roars. The corners of his mouth twitch upward when he succeeds at making the crew laugh, like when he throws a sour-lemon pout over his shoulder.
“It’s fashion,” he purrs, his take on “Zoolander.” “Fashion!”
There is no mention of his bowels.
And at dinner the night before, after a considerable amount of deflection, Yelchin does warm up. Despite his stomach issues, he orders grilled chicken and brussels sprouts. He puts on an above-average Christopher Walken impression. He grins and giggles and jokes. He curses for emphasis and not for shock value. He praises his favorite film, “Taxi Driver,” and mentions a dream to write a bunch of B-movies, “like B- and C-level thrillers.” It’s clear that Yelchin’s appreciation for moviemaking goes beyond acting.
“I started writing a film six years ago about Valley kids and this sort of bisexual culture that we have, of constantly self-objectifying and objectifying others…about the exchange of people as sexual objects as well as the exchange of objects,” Yelchin offers. “That’s what consumer society does. You look at something and you see yourself as being consumed, as having that thing.”
“Like Crazy” was shot over 22 days on a budget of $250,000 and a Canon 7-D camera. Yelchin is especially pleased by all of this. Doremus never really cut during filming, the actor adds, but he knew what to pull out from the film, and that’s part of what makes him such a “phenomenal actor’s director.”
“I’m going to be honest,” Yelchin goes on. “It’s nice talking about a movie that you’re proud of, that was made in such an interesting way — I like to preach about how important it is how we shot it, I want that to sink in with people, because that means if you have 10 people who really want to make a movie and you have a camera that costs $1,800, you don’t need anything else. You can make a movie. That’s huge. If you want to make movies you need to think on a micro-micro level and figure out how to make them for nothing with people who really care about your movie and really want to make it. Without all the other bullsh-t.”
“The bullsh-t” is a frequent touchstone of Yelchin’s. It boils down to his frustration with the machinations of the industry: being on tour with a film for months on end, hotels and room service, and Q&A sessions in darkened cinemas full of strangers and reporters and photographers, and the dreaded step and repeat.
“I get exhausted from talking about the relationships involved in this film over and over again,” he says. “On the other hand, I’m proud of this movie and I want people to see it. But it’s exhausting. I can’t sit here and say it’s not exhausting.”
He relates an anecdote about the press junket for “Charlie Bartlett” during which he and Robert Downey Jr. spent half an hour giving nonsense answers to the international press.
“But then I had to sit on the phone for two hours later straightening everything out, actually giving answers,” he says.
Late for another Q&A session uptown, Yelchin wraps up dinner and reveals plans to have a hamburger and a chocolate mousse later, stomach troubles be damned. “I think it’s gone away,” he shrugs. He then offers a parting suggestion.
“You should go down to that OWS [Occupy Wall Street] party, write about that,” he says. “That says something, that’s great and a funny thing to write about. How even good movements can be adapted against the will of the collective.”