If one actor has emerged as the breakthrough star of the “Twilight” series it’s Taylor Lautner, the talented 18-year-old actor behind lovesick lycanthrope Jacob Black. Moviehole caught up with Lautner at the L.A press day for “The Twilight Saga : Eclipse”.
Ok Taylor, sell us on “Eclipse”
If you like the first and second movies, then you are definitely going to like this movie. If you haven’t seen the first or second movies, you’re still going to like it. It basically takes everything – the romance, the action, the suspense, the danger, everything in the first two movies – and times it by five, in this one. It’s by far my favorite movie. It’s exciting. It’s very dangerous. They’re at war, the entire time, but you still have that romance, and it’s elevated because this is the height of the triangle. Edward and Jacob are forced to team up together and protect Bella from Victoria and Riley, who are after her. That was a very long way of telling you why you should see this movie. You should just see the movie.
Get to do anything different in ”Eclipse” than the other ”Twilight” films?
I was actually bummed. There’s a lot more action in this picture, but for me, specifically, I’m a wolf when there’s any action going on, so I was bummed I wasn’t involved in too much action. I got to kiss Bella, for the first time, so that was probably the biggest thing.
Is she a good kisser?
Definitely. Bella is a fantastic kisser. That was probably the most exciting new thing.
Did you and Rob compare notes after?
We didn’t. That would have been fun.
You’re the new Hollywood “it” guy. What has that been like, from your point of view?
I don’t know about that, but it’s exciting. This franchise has been such an incredible platform. It’s amazing. I’m so thankful for this franchise and the opportunity. I’ve had the time of my life, the last two years, and I’m just so thankful to be in this position now. I’m having fun making movies. It’s great. I’ve met a lot of cool new people and had the opportunity to work with a lot of new talented people and amazing is the best word for it.
Do you have an entourage?
I wouldn’t say so. I’ve got a couple of people who are friends.
What drives you to succeed?
Probably the people around me and the people I care about. They are my motivation. That’s probably what drives me to succeed. Family and friends.
How do you choose your projects now?
It’s kind of a gut instinct. It’s whatever I’d want to watch. You read a lot of scripts and, whenever you can finish one, you really love it. It’s all based on the story and the character. I want to challenge myself to do many different things. I definitely don’t want to stay on one road, so I try to change it up.
Is “Stretch Armstrong” your next flick?
Not next, but hopefully soon. Next is Abduction. I’ll just be a regular guy who is an interesting situation. Maybe I’ll be a superhero in about a year from now.
Is it easier for you to keep the muscle mass on, in between movies?
The most interesting thing I found is that it’s just as hard to maintain it, as it was to put it on in the first place. Trust me, it was really hard putting it on, and it is just as hard keeping it. If I’m really busy and can’t get into the gym, or if I’m busy and don’t have time to eat, it just comes off and it takes 10 times the amount of time to put it back on again, so it’s tough.
What’s the one food that you can’t resist?
Occasionally, you really want some ice cream, for sure. You’ll cheat a time or two. When it comes closer to film, or when you have a magazine photo shoot, then you really just have to stay strong and cut it out.
Jacob seems to be more mature in this film. Do you think that’s because you’re coming into your own as well?
No. I don’t know if it really has anything to do with me. It’s all in the books, and that’s what we go off of. That’s exactly what the fans want to see. But, yeah, Jacob definitely matures quite a bit because he’s dealing with his new self now. He’s come to know his new self and the situations he’s been put in, romance wise. He deals with a lot. He becomes frustrated in this one, a little bit, because he gets so close and then gets told no, over and over again. It’s quite a bummer, but he’s quite persistent.
Can you talk about working more closely with Robert Pattinson for this film?
I had a scene or two in New Moon where I was able to work with Rob, and I was really excited to work with him in Eclipse quite a bit. The hardest thing I found, about working with Rob, is that usually I have to hate him in the scenes and it’s difficult. He’s such a funny, nice guy. Literally, we’d be doing a scene where we’re yelling and screaming at each other, and he’s slapping my shoulder and I’m shoving him off me, and we’re screaming and spitting in each other’s faces, and then, as soon as they would call cut, we’d bust out laughing. It is really hard to be mean to Rob, definitely.
Is there one scene, in particular, that was tough?
The tent scene. The tent scene is really good because it has that intensity, but it’s also humorous, at the same time.
You have maybe the line of the movie when Jacob gets to say, “I’m hotter that you.” What was your reaction, when you first read that line, and how did you get through that with a straight face?
It’s true, keeping a straight face was the tough thing. That was another line where, when I read it, I loved the line, but I was like, “This is going to be so hard to deliver, especially with a straight face.” I was looking Rob in the eyes, and he was starring at me with that Edward look. It was funny. That was difficult to say to Rob.
Have you ever fought for a woman in real life?
Yeah, I’d say so. If it’s important enough to you, definitely. I’ve fought for a woman.
Have you ever been on the losing end of a love triangle?
That’s a very popular question. Maybe when I was younger, in elementary school, or something, and there was a girl and five guys wanted to be with that girl. When you’re in the fifth grade, you have crushes, but not seriously. I’ve never been in a love triangle. I would not want to be in that situation. I would not want to be in Bella’s situation, for sure. I wouldn’t want to be in Jacob’s or Edward’s situations. It’s not fun. I’d have to say no, seriously.
On a more serious note, what feedback have you heard from Native Americans about the Wolf Pack?
I haven’t heard too much feedback from them. But, two years ago, maybe even longer, when we filmed Twilight, I met with some real Quileutes. I just wanted to get to know them before we started filming. I went there with a pad, paper and pencil. I was thinking I was going to have to write down notes and transform myself into this different person. I was like, “What do you guys like to do in your free time?,” and I was expecting some different answer. And, they were like, “We go to the beach and we play basketball, but most of all, we like to check out girls.” I was like, “Oh, really? All right.” It would definitely be interesting to hear feedback, after the movies have come out.
Was that line where Edward says, “Doesn’t he have a shirt?,” referring to you being half-naked throughout the entire film, in the script?
I believe it was actually in the book, but it was definitely in the script. When I read that, for the first time, I couldn’t wait for Rob to deliver that. It was funny. It was quite obvious, when they pull up in the middle of the street, even with the position I’m in. I’m leaning back up against the car, with my hands behind me. It looks like I’m flexing, waiting for her to come up. Those are the awkward scenes. When everybody is fully clothed, it’s raining and I’m just the only person there, posing for them.
Do you have a clause in your contract that says you have to have your shirt off?
No, no clause. Whatever the book says, that’s most likely what we’re going to do.
What about for ”Abduction”?
No. It really all comes down to character. If I love the character and if I love the story, and the character requires me to be shirtless, or if it requires me to lose 30 pounds, I’m ready to do it.
Do you have any idea what your look will be like for ”Stretch Armstrong”?
You know, they’re doing all of the designing and all that stuff right now. They’re writing the script and everything, so I haven’t seen any finalized version. But, chances are that it might be a little different from the figure.
Do you know what the backstory is going to be like?
No. They’re not finished with the script yet. I think they should be shortly, so hopefully we’ll know soon. The cool thing with the toy is that there is no story. With a superhero, you have to stay along certain lines, but with a toy, you get to create everything, which is super-exciting and creative.
What’s the downside to this whirlwind of fame?
It’s hard to choose one. There’s a million more pros than cons, for sure. Obviously, the privacy thing is a little different. It’s not normal to wake up and have 12 paparazzi cars waiting outside to follow you to Starbucks in the morning. But, there’s a lot more pros, and I’m willing to put up with those cons, for sure.
Loved your MTV promo. Would you ever work with Les Grossman (the Tom Cruise character from ”Tropic Thunder”) again?
For sure, yeah. Working with Mr. Cruise was surreal. Doing a movie with him would be one of my dreams, for sure.
What are your thoughts on ”Breaking Dawn” being two films?
I think that was definitely the right thing to do. It’s hard enough to break down 500-plus pages into a 110 or 120 page script, but this one is 800 pages and there’s just so much going on with the Wolf Pack and the baby. There’s a lot of stuff, so to condense that into one film would have been a challenge. I’m very excited that it’s two. I’m looking forward to it.
Do you know if it’s going to be one movie from Jacob’s perspective and one from Edward’s?
I don’t know that. I do know that it will be two movies, which I’m extremely excited about. Bill Condon is doing both. It’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to work with him.
How do you think you’ll approach the romantic triangle in that film?
I really haven’t started thinking about it too much. Right now, we’re focusing on Eclipse coming out, so we’re promoting that. And after that, I’m focusing on Abduction. And then, after that will be Breaking Dawn. I’m sure as soon as we meet with Bill, further on down the road, we will go towards that. That will be interesting, for sure.
Have you talked to Bill Condon yet?
I have only met Bill once, and very briefly, so we have not had time to discuss it. He seems like a very nice guy and, obviously, he’s extremely talented. I think whatever comes our way, he’s going to deal with it fine. I’m looking forward to talking to him, for sure.
Do you think the Wolf Pack might end up doing a musical number with Bill Condon?
I think he already released a statement promising there would be no musical number in the films. That was funny!
What are your thoughts on keeping ”Breaking Dawn” faithful to the book?
It’s definitely super-important to us to maintain it as faithful as possible to the books because that’s exactly what the fans want to see. They want to see the books. There may have to be a few changes, here and there, but as long as we maintain the basic story and everything the characters go through with all those emotions, we’re going to be fine. I think whatever Bill Condon does is going to turn out amazing. I definitely trust in him, and I think the fans should as well.
So Taylor, do you have any guilty pleasures?
American Idol, definitely. So You Think You Can Dance as well, but American Idol would definitely be number one for me. I haven’t missed an episode in eight or nine years. I can’t believe I just said that.
Can you sing?
No, I can’t sing, and that’s the funny thing. Maybe that’s why I like watching it so much. I know there’s no way I can do that.
What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had with a fan?
I would say they’re just passionate. I was just in Australia about a week ago or so, at this big fan event, and there was a red carpet.
Oh the thing at Luna Park?
Yeah. There were 4, 000 fans and I was walking down the line, and fans like to hold out their hand or arm for you to sign. This one arm I went by had a massive tattoo of the Wolf Pack tattoo. It was a real one, and it was pretty cool. She was like, “Can you sign it?,” and I was like, “Sure!” So, I signed right underneath it and, the next day, somebody told me that the girl got my signature tattooed right underneath the Wolf Pack tattoo. I didn’t know whether or not to say that was cool, or feel bad that I signed her arm. That’s definitely some passion there.
Jesus! How do you remain so balanced and normal, in all of the craziness of ”Twilight”?
That’s a good question. It definitely is about surrounding yourself with family and the friends that you’ve known forever. All of us live in two completely different worlds, and they are complete opposites. This is our job. We go to work and live in this business world, and then we go back to our regular world. We do the same things we did before. We’re not that exciting. We sit home and watch American Idol every Tuesday and Wednesday, and spend time with our family and friends. I think maintaining that world is extremely important.
But, isn’t dealing with all the paparazzi annoying and a pain?
Yeah, sometimes it becomes aggravating, but you’ve got to tell yourself that this comes with the job and what you’re getting out of it on the other side is definitely worth it. You can’t let them affect you that much, or you know it will drive you insane. Maintaining sanity is pretty important to me, so you’ve got to push that stuff aside, but it’s never normal.
Can you ever go out though without being recognized?
Yeah. You can be creative. It’s a matter of choosing where you go and when you go. A mall, probably not. A movie theatre, probably not. I have my hang-outs, like the good low-key restaurants. Sometimes you’re like, “I don’t care. I want to go bowling and I’m going to do it.” Sure enough, it’s hectic, but you have fun. Then, you go home and you think, “I’m not going bowling for awhile.”
What’s one item from set that has sentimental value to you?
Probably those little jean shorts. They have a lot of value. I’m going to miss those shorts, dearly. I don’t even know what they are. They’re just jeans that Jacob finds in the woods. I don’t know if there is a brand.
How much does your friendship with Rob and Kristen mean to you?
It means everything. I can’t imagine filming this franchise, if the whole cast weren’t so close as friends. It would be a nightmare. Ron and Kristen and myself are really close and it helps a lot because, when you’re filming, you can be open and honest with each other and discuss things. It just makes the filming process a lot easier. When we’re promoting, and even when we’re not doing anything, but just hanging out on the weekends, it’s great. They’re incredible people and very talented. We will definitely maintain a friendship, for a very long time past the franchise, so it’s extremely important to me.
Since you have ”Abduction” coming up, what makes a great action movie?
I think it’s the story that comes with the action. Abduction actually has an interesting story. It’s about a high school senior who finds a picture of himself on a missing persons’ web site only to realize that his whole life, for 18 years, has been a lie. It can’t be nonsense action. The action has to make sense and have a story behind it. I’m super-excited to get going on that. I start in three weeks.