Pretty soon Yelchin found something he was good at—and now he's plying it with the best. The 12-year-old actor stars opposite Anthony Hopkins in the new movie Hearts in Atlantis, a supernatural coming-of-age tale based on short stories by Stephen King. Going head-to-head with a knighted Oscar-winning star was intimidating at first, says Yelchin: "My eye kept twitching when I was in front of him." But the two wound up pals, even chatting about Shakespeare between scenes. "He wanted to know why Hamlet did what he did," says Hopkins. "I thought he was tremendously intelligent."
Yelchin—whose parents, Victor, 53, and Irina, 51, emigrated from Russia when only child Anton was 6 months old—discovered his calling three years ago, when a friend suggested he try acting lessons. He quickly nabbed roles in commercials, then in movies, including this year's thriller Along Came a Spider.
Yelchin's success hasn't altered his status at his Los Angeles middle school. "I'm in the dork group," he says. "I like playing chess. I like reading." Some activities, though, are just too uncool. When Yelchin had to smooch Atlantis costar Mika Boorem, 14, "I asked him if he wanted to practice on me, a little kiss on my cheek," says Irina. Anton would rather have tried landing a triple lutz: "I mean, it's my mom."
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