Anton Yelchin is pretty scrappy, as actors go, but even he was a bit daunted by the cathartic filming experience of “Green Room.” In Jeremy Saulnier’s terrifying thriller, a punk band is trapped in a backwoods club by a bunch of neo-Nazis — with a menacing leader played by Patrick Stewart — which, considering Yelchin plays Chekov in the current “Star Trek” movies, is a real treat for fans of “Trek” cast crossovers. The actor, 27, plays the bass player who’s among four fighting, tooth and nail, to survive the night.
First of all, I was impressed with your bass-playing. I was curious about how much time and effort went into making the band look legit.
Alia [Shawkat] and I have jammed together, and we had just worked together that summer. Callum [Turner] is also a real punk throat, you know. We actually ended up playing at our wrap party. We played one original that me and Alia were jamming on back at my house in L.A. We played two covers and we played a Joe Cole [another co-star] original where Joe rapped. It was awesome.
Me, Alia and Joe got very close very quickly because we would rehearse on the weekends. We’d go and Joe would play drums and I would mess around on bass. The first couple of times I was like, “Man, I think we should really do nothing. Like, I think it would be good to take a day where we don’t play the songs that we have to play, we just make our own songs, because we will learn about one another and grow together in that journey.” And it happened organically. There was just a moment when we were all like, “You wanna f— around?”
From an acting standpoint, when you have a story like this that takes place in such a confined amount of time and you’re playing such a level of terror, how do you come back into that every day to keep up the continuity of the performance?
I guess you just do it, you know what I mean? I think it’s a deeply personal thing that everyone does on their own to get there on the day, and then you’re just there all together, miserable. And you do it, you know? The thing that ends up happening is because you’re in this room together, you end up feeding off of each other. You’ll be sitting there and I’ll watch Imogen [Poots] just starting to lose it and it’ll make me want to lose it and that’ll make Alia want to lose it.
Oh yeah, and the slamming. When you get slammed by s—, or you get thrown, the feeling of like, “Oh God I’m going to f—ing break down” — it’s right there in a weird way. It’s right there at the surface when things are that visceral, you know?
There’s an almost overwhelming level of brutality in this, but it’s a movie: a very controlled environment. Right?
That’s funny, I was thinking about the level of violence. I was thinking about the dogs, for example, like how brutal all the violence with the dogs looks — how magically it all syncs together between the real dogs and how good they were and the way everything was done. It’s incredible that the level of violence onscreen didn’t translate into actual pain, beyond the [fire] extinguisher [spray] and pumping atmosphere into one room for a month. Beyond that and little cuts and scrapes, it was very safe.
So Patrick Stewart plays the big bad guy. I was curious if this movie is really supposed to mess with the heads of “Star Trek” fans, pitting Chekov against Picard.
There might be some Trekkie that might be coming up with some theory, sure.
Who do you root for in this if you’re a “Star Trek” fan?
Come on. You don’t root for the Nazis! I mean, what?!