Anton Yelchin hid his cystic fibrosis for his entire career

Love, Antosha is a documentary about Anton Yelchin. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

The documentary Love, Antosha, which premiered at Sundance this week, shows a more personal side of the late Anton Yelchin. One of the film’s surprising revelations is that Yelchin suffered from cystic fibrosis.

Yelchin kept his condition secret and dealt with it privately, often doing breathing exercises two hours before an early morning call time. The audience never heard him cough, because he would cough before and after takes.

“I was cutting around so many coughs in Like Crazy,” said Like Crazy director Drake Doremus, who produced Love, Antosha. “I just assumed he had a cold the whole shoot. I had no idea. For the nine years I knew him, I had no idea.”

Like Crazy made it a little challenging for Yelchin to avoid coughing, because Doremus did long improvised takes. Either way, Yelchin never let it impact his work.

“He was so humble,” Love, Antosha director Garrett Price said. “He just didn’t want people to feel sorry for him. He didn’t want to be held back by his illness. That just shows you what a remarkable person he is.’

In his mid-20s, the symptoms of cystic fibrosis got worse for Yelchin. The disease is not what ultimately took his life though. 

That fault belongs on Yelchin’s vehicle with a faulty parking brake. Had that tragic accident not occurred, Yelchin could have lived a long life managing his condition.

“I think it was more difficult for him and he needed to pay more attention to it, but I think he would have gone on to persevere in many ways,” Doremus said. “I just think it was getting harder for him and he needed to be more careful.”

Yelchin may have even lived to see a cure for cystic fibrosis.

“It’s also one of these diseases, as I learned talking to doctors, that they’re getting closer and closer to treatments and cures,” Price said. “They said the only thing comparable is AIDS to cystic fibrosis about how fast we’re learning how to treat this. 

“Who knows? In six, seven years from now, life expectancy may be longer. It’s just one of those things that we try not to think about too much. I think about more about the life he did live while he was here. This movie is the definition of living life to the fullest.”

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