[credit provider=”Wikimedia Commons” url=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AntonYelchin08TIFF.jpg”]
Now that Michael Cera has been placed in Hollywood’s witness-protection program after a string of box-office bombs, Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a slick, gravity-defying arse kicker in Inception, and The O.C.’s loveable smart-aleck Seth Cohen is but a distant memory, a new contender has arisen for the title of geeky teen heartthrob, albeit from an unlikely place. Anton Yelchin moved to America from the Soviet Union in 1989, when he was just 6 months old. His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, were stars of the Leningrad Ice Ballet, and had even qualified for the 1972 Winter Olympics in figure-skating pairs but were barred from participating by the Soviet government.
“I don’t exactly know what that was—because they were Jewish or because the KGB didn’t want them to travel,” said Yelchin in an interview with The Daily Beast. The family, which was quite well off by Soviet standards, sold all their worldly possessions—their home, their summer house, even their family jewelry, since the Soviet authorities wouldn’t let them take it—and immigrated to the U.S. as refugees who didn’t speak a word of English. Joined by Irina’s father, who had recently suffered a stroke, and Viktor’s mother, they eventually settled into a tiny apartment in West Hollywood.