Sundance Diary: 'Alpha Dog' with Justin Timberlake and Anton Yelchin

143518__anton_lSunday evening I opened my eyes to Dakota Fanning’s ratty little grin and was relieved. I had fallen asleep on the flight back from Park City and awoke to find that the in-flight movie was Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. I couldn’t possibly imagine a more concrete sign that Sundance was finally over. The 737 cabin was crammed with bleary-eyed film fest survivors, their mud-snow-spattered jeans and ruined Ugg boots the major souvenirs of multiple hikes up and down Main Street. Industry talk was surprisingly mum on the return to Gotham. The passengers were no longer debating every little detail of every little movie. Mostly, they seemed tired — happy it was over.

And they weren’t the only ones. Early that morning, at a diner high on Main, a waiter asked a sluggish coworker if everything was okay. She smiled reassuringly and replied "Today is the last day of Sundance. I couldn’t ask for anything more." So, yeah, 10 days of moviegoing — or in the case of Utah residents, 10 days of bending over backwards for moviegoers in order bolster the local economy — can take its toll. But before we get too cynical, consider these brief but optimistic scenes of Sundance blossoming:

During the closing night screening of Nick Cassavetes’ Alpha Dogon Friday night, I was seated directly in front of 17-year-old costarAnton Yelchin (center, with Justin Timberlake and Cassavetes) and his doting mother. The Russian-born child actor hasbeen in several films, but this one has the potential to be huge. It’sTimberlake’s acting debut, first of all. Secondly, it’s good,and with a handful of young, attractive faces from Timberlake to EmileHirsch to Dominique Swain, Alpha Dog may launch a whole newpost-hip-hop Brat Pack.

addCredit(“Alpha Dog cast: Jeff Vespa/”)

Dressed kid-cool in a blazer and canvas Chuck Taylors, Yelchin chattedexcitedly, interrupting himself only to snap at his mother forobsessively rubbing his cold hands. During the scene where hischaracter is lured into a heated pool — and subsequently a steamythreesome — with two nubile flirts, I couldn’t help but try to cranemy neck around and get Mom’s reaction. I asked her about it later atthe Alpha Dog party as she allowed Yelchin to partake inchampagne with his older costars. She said that during the filming shewas just worried that the water in the pool might be cold. Yelchin gota little drunk at the closing night celebration, triumphantly wagginghis shaggy pseudo-hipster Afro as the Strokes and Young MC blasted outof the speakers. I asked him how it all felt. He slurred, "Prettyf—ing awesome."

Sundance may finally be over, but for this kid, the party was just beginning.

Comments (15 total) Add your comment
  • Ep Sato

    Dude, Young MC and the Strokes at the party? Danng, an hermano HAS to go to Sundance next year! Anyone want to option my script about the 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery so we can both get in?
    As for the Russian kid, someone has to introduce him to Drew Barrimore, so she can warn him of the perils that come with being a hipster child prodigy…

  • Dan

    He’s 17, not 7. I doubt he faces the same perils as Barrymore did.

  • Jorge Martíenz

    I believe it is not Timberlake´s acting debut. He made EDISON first, which I happened to watch yesterday night on DVD, and it sucks so bad! it is such a shame for Spacey & Morgan Freeman as costars.

  • Thad

    I can’t stand that kid Anton. After ‘the House of D’ I can’t even bare to hear him speak. His voice is worse than fingers on a chalkboard. He is deadpan and boring. I hope his acting ability has improved.

  • Scott

    I thought Edison was Justin’s first movie too. Is it not getting a release afterall?

  • Chris

    Really? Alpha Dog good? From the little snippet from all the entertainment shows, it looks like JT needs to stop acting forever. He tries way toooooooooo hard ands ends up looking dazed! Also, what an example that kids is! Nothing better than getting drunk in front of your mother when you can’t even legally smoke let alone drink!

  • KLO

    i dont think young mc and strokes were actually there, just plaining on teh sound system. The movie was good. JT WAS GOOD – seriously. Anyone who saw the whole film that night that i spoke with was at the very least impressed at how well he did considering he’s a boy bander and at the very most declaring him as the next big thing in acting. He was supposed to be dazed, he was f’d up all the time in the movie. he was great in this part – dont knwo about range – too soon to tell, but he delivered a very credible acting job in this very hip, very disturbing – good film. Not for everyone though –fuddy duddies wont like it for its grit and language.

  • MC

    KLO – do you have a poster of JT on your wall? Do you have relations with yourself while staring at that poster?

  • Tara Thorne

    Sorry to have to correct you, Neil, but JT’s acting debut was in that really crappy cop movie that closed TIFF last year, Edison.

  • Ep Sato

    I never thought I’d actually defend Justin Timberlake, but (heaven help me) here goes:
    The New Kids on the Block spawned a decent career for Donnie Wahlberg. While maybe not an A lister, Donnie’s name helped bring up another singer, his brother Mark Wahlberg. At the beginning, Marky Mark was just another one hit popstar trying to cross over. Now, the man is a well respected actor.
    Not saying that Lance Bass and JT are the new Wahlberg’s, but in a time when Mos Def and Andre 2000 (or is it 3000, I always forget) can garner so much respect in so little time, maybe there will be a niche for JT.
    If not, we’ll always have the Superbowl to remember him by. Gonna work your body!

  • Britney

    If you want get technical Justin’s very first movie was tv disney movie called model behavior he did that in 1999 or 2000 that was his very first and he looked hott too!

  • Lunara

    Someone please, give me e-mail of Anton Yelchin! Or how i can contact with him???

  • tabetha

    ya’ll are mean just cuz u don’t like somthing dosn’t mean u have to trash the person. if u have ever met him u would know justin is a really nice guy!!

  • tabetha

    And his frist movie was modeled behavoir it was a disney moveie you can catch it on disney channel sometimes.

  • sian

    hi justin me and my nan is a fan 4 u we both love u justin rember that we love u.

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