During the early stages of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, it was unclear as to whether Taylor Lautner was going to reprise his role because there was concern he didn’t physically look the part. However, when the young actor transformed his entire body for the role and fans expressed disappointment that the teenage heartthrob was going to be replaced, Lautner was welcomed back into the franchise. ComingSoon.net chatted with the star during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills about what it was like coming back for the second film and what the challenges were of playing Jacob Black.
Q: Did you ever feel like you were ever really in danger of not getting this role? Taylor Lautner: Honestly, I knew where my character went in “New Moon” and that’s all I tried to stay focused on. I couldn’t control things outside, I couldn’t control the media. But I could control what I was doing to portray Jacob Black correctly. So that’s what I stayed focused on the whole entire time.
Q: Did that start with going to the gym? Lautner: Absolutely. Yeah, Jacob transforms a lot in “New Moon.” Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. So it was a matter of getting to the gym and eating the right foods and a lot of it. But also, reading and studying the book and my character over and over and over again so I could have his character down as well. Because he changes in many many different ways.
Q: Can you talk about those changes? Lautner: Well when he transforms, basically my job was to continue what I started in “Twilight,” which was this extremely happy, friendly, outgoing guy. Best friends with Bella. And I had to continue that for the first half of the film, but as soon as I transform, I snap and I become a completely different person. I’m dealing with my issues and it’s really hard for me.
Q: Would you talk about scenes where you show off your physique? Lautner: I start laughing so hard every time I see that scene. “Oh, you’re bleeding? Okay, let me fix it.” It’s so embarrassing. Yeah, I mean, here’s the thing. There’s a reason that he’s not wearing clothes all the time. One, when he transforms, all his clothes get shredded, he can’t help it. And when he goes into the woods to get something to put on so he’s not naked, it’s just a ripped pair of jean shorts. And he’s also hot, he’s one hundred eight degrees. So that’s another reason. And the thing is, I love this character, I love this story and putting on the weight and not wearing much clothing was required by the role. A year from now, if I love a story and I love a character that requires me to lose forty pounds, I’m ready to do it.
Q: Like Tarzan? Lautner: Possibly.
Q: Could you be more specific? I want to do whatever it was you did. Lautner: Oh boy. Putting the pressure on me now. I was in the gym about five days a week, because it’s important to get your recovery time. And not over working yourself, because if you’re overworking yourself, I was trying to put on weight. And if I was in the gym, I’d be burning the calories I’m trying to take in. The most important thing was the eating side. Everybody thinks it was the actual getting in the gym, that was easy. I was motivated, so getting in the gym was easy for me. But, the eating was pretty hard. It was just eating a lot, we found out that I had to consume at least 3200 calories a day just to maintain. And I’m not trying to maintain, I’m trying to gain. So I had to eat more than that. And putting something in your mouth every two hours. And I’m busy. I’m in downtown LA going from meeting to meeting, so there’s not time for me to be eating so I literally would have to carry a little baggie full of beef patties, raw almonds, sweet potatoes, so it’s not like every two hours I’m eating ice cream. It was difficult.
Q: Did you have a personal trainer? Lautner: I do, I definitely had one that helped me out.
Q: Were you ever concerned about overshadowing Edward in your performance? Was that something you had to temper? Lautner: Well thank you very much, that’s good to hear. I think it just depends on what kind of girl you are, what kind of guy you like. Edward and Jacob are complete opposite guys. They’re hot and cold. Literally. Forget that. I personally love Jacob and Bella’s relationship. How they begin with best friends and it starts to grow into something more and more. Both guys are in love with Bella. Both guys are always gonna be there for Bella. And they’re protective. I just think it’s what kind of guy you like.
Q: Can you talk about the stunt work and the wire work? Lautner: The physical side was really fun. Some of it was challenging. I’ve never ridden a dirt bike before and yes, I rode the dirt bike for a total of five seconds in the film. But for those five seconds, I had to look as cool as possible. So it did require a lot of practice just for safety wise so they could let me do it. And the wire work, like when I run up the side of her house and that whole thing. The wires were there just so if I slipped and fell I didn’t face plant into the ground. But it was definitely challenging, that stunt was really complicated and you need to be on. I’m using like a little plug in the side of the wall just to take off from and jump so it’s really complicated. And it required a lot of practice. Every single weekend I would practice that stunt for three hours a day and it was the last thing we filmed. The bonding with the werewolves was very fun, those guys were characters. They’re fun guys and what’s so great is that they each fit their character perfectly so on set, we had a blast when they were on set. They made the set so exciting.
Q: The media seems to love you, shirtless or not. What’s the strangest thing that’s ever been written about you? How do you let the fans know who you really are outside of Jacob? Lautner: Honestly, I try and stay away from what’s been written about me, because if you let that stuff get to you and it’s not true it can drive you crazy. One thing that I have heard recently which is not true, I didn’t say it, is that I believe I was quote saying “I will never take my shirt off for a movie again.” I didn’t say that. If I have to, if the character requires it, I will. Who knows in ten years I might do that. And like I said earlier, if the character requires me to lose forty pounds, I’ll do it. It’s just all what the character requires. So that was interesting to see. What was the second part?
Q: How do you balance the fans and the public with your real persona? Lautner: It’s difficult, it is. It’s definitely important to stay true to yourself and stay close to those people who you were close to before. Family, your friends, and just not let that outside stuff get to you.
Q: How do you prepare yourself to be an idol to teen girls? Lautner: I don’t think there’s anyway to prepare yourself for this phenomenon just because none of us expected it. When we were filming “Twilight,” we didn’t expect anything. We were just filming a movie that we wanted the fans to enjoy. And then it kinda just blew into this whole other world. So I don’t think there’s a way to prepare for that, but yeah you could definitely say I felt a little bit of pressure trying to bring Jacob’s character and Jake and Bella’s relationship alive for the fans. Because this movie definitely develops their relationship and that sets up the love triangle so it’s a very important story.
Q: What is it like to look around see all the posters with your face on it? Is it strange? Lautner: Yeah of course. I don’t think there’s a way to ever get used to it. It’s not normal to drive down the street and see your face up there. It’s “Twilight,” it comes with the job.
Q: Is it cool though? Lautner: [laughing] Possibly. It comes with the job.
Q: You’re filming with Taylor Swift. Has she written a song about you? Would you like her to? Lautner: That’s a scary thing. I don’t know if she has. I have no idea. That movie was a lot of fun and it comes out pretty soon, it comes out really soon after “New Moon” does. It’s gonna be fun there was a lot of fantastic actors in it, I got to work with legendary director Gary Marshall and Taylor was great as well. So I’m excited to go and see that.
Q: What’s it called? Lautner: “Valentine’s Day.”
Q: So it’ll be out early next year? Lautner: Yeah, in February.
Q: Was it hard with the schedule? Lautner: It was hard, yeah. We had a very short break between “New Moon” and “Eclipse” and I knew that I wanted to be part of this film somehow, just to work with Gary and then the entire cast so I was able just to squeeze a short thing in quickly.
Q: What about you and Taylor Swift? Lautner: What about us?
Q: Is that just a publicity thing? Are you two dating? Lautner: Well the very funny thing is that all of you have seen every single move I make so I guess I can leave that up to you to decide.
Q: How much does wearing the wig inform your character? Is getting rid of it freeing? Lautner: Yeah, I had a sigh of relief when we brought this up. It was very freeing. It not only was uncomfortable, okay. One? I’d look at myself in the mirror and I wouldn’t be able to recognize myself, it was so weird to see that hair on me. Two, it was very itchy, hot, whatever. Annoying. But it also, it slowed down the filming process like whenever it got caught in my eye or whatever, we’d have to cut, start over. It got caught in my mouth and I’m spitting hair out in the middle of the scene. I’m coming this close to kissing Bella and I’m like “sorry, I gotta spit my hair out.” So it was annoying, so yeah. The day we were able to we actually had a picture wrap on the wig. You know, the crew claps for you at the end or whatever. My last day of filming with the wig, we ripped it off, held it up in the air and were like “that’s a picture wrap on Taylor’s wig.” And the whole crew did a standing ovation and it was amazing, it was great to chop that thing off.
Q: There’s practically an international countdown for your 18th birthday. Have you given any thought to that day? Lautner: I haven’t even begun. We are so busy, it’s like we take one day at a time. I don’t even know what room in this hotel I’m going to after this. That’s very interesting, I wasn’t aware of this countdown. It’s a big day. It is a big day. So yeah, as soon as I finish this, maybe I’ll think about that.
Q: What is a really sweet fan encounter you can tell us about? Lautner: Man, we have fans all the time that will just burst into tears and that just yeah, it’s just moving. It must mean so much for them to meet us and it’s an amazing feeling to know you can touch somebody in that way. It also makes you sad, it’s like, “don’t cry, stop crying!” You don’t know what to do, it’s like “it’s okay!” It’s hard, you feel bad for them but you’re also happy at the same time.
Q: Who would win between Shark Boy and Jacob? Lautner: That’s a good question. At the moment, I’d have to say Jacob. We’re pretty strong. And fast.
Q: What’s it like working/living in Canada? Tell us about the next movie as well? Lautner: Canada’s great. I’ve spent a while there, I’ve spent the six months there this year. The first time we were there, it was really rainy and dark and cloudy and it was snowing and that was difficult weather wise. But this past time filming “Eclipse,” it was beautiful. It’s just one of the most beautiful cities, I’m definitely gonna miss it a lot. Filming “Eclipse”… “Eclipse” was my favorite book so I was really excited to start filming the movie. I just love that it’s the height of the love triangle. “Twilight” develops Edward and Bella’s relationship, “New Moon” develops Jacob and Bella’s and in “Eclipse,” the three of them are physically together. It has one of my favorite scenes ever in that movie the tent scene. Edward is forced, I mean I guess it was a choice of his, to let me sleep in the same sleeping bag as Bella, just so she doesn’t die because she’s shivering to death. And I’m warm and I’m the only thing at that moment that can keep her alive. It’s a funny scene, there’s a lot of ribbing going on between Jacob and Edward. It’s gonna be a really good movie. And visually stunning. David Slade is incredible visually.
Q: Behind the camera, how cold was it? Lautner: Yeah, the challenging thing is Jacob is supposed to be extremely hot so he’s not supposed to feel cold at all. And the worst scene for that was the rain scene or the break-up scene, where Bella first sees Jacob after his transformation. We’re standing on that little hill right behind Jacob’s house and it was thirty five degrees and it was pouring rain on top of us and just not regular rain, rain tower rain which comes straight from the springs. And the scene was very long, it took four minutes to film the scene and we film that same scene all day long. So it was really, really rough. It was hard. And as soon as we’d call cut, we’d run over to a heater quick and wrap ourselves in blankets and we’d have like two minutes before we’d have to go do another take. So the weather was definitely extremely challenging and I just had to take myself to another world so during the scene I wasn’t sitting there shivering. It was hard, sometimes I’d catch myself and I’d have to stop.
Q: What did you think of your role when you finally got to the wolf on screen? How are you trying to relish the end of your teenage years? Lautner: I’m having the time of my life, so it couldn’t be a better end to my teenage years. I’m doing what I love and I’m spending time with the people I love. So it’s great, I’m definitely never, ever going to forget this. [When I first saw the wolf], I was blown away. I was really excited. Because when I’m filming the famous trailer shot where I’m running through the film and jump up and transform mid- air, I’m attached to wires and I’m running and I let the wires pull me up the air and they jerk me to a stop and I just have to freeze there and let them convert my body into a CGI wolf and the whole time I’m like “I hope I look cool.” And yeah, after I saw the final version last week, after I saw the wolves it was amazing. And the fight scene that comes right after that, the fight between Jacob and Paul Wolf, it was so cool. I thought they were extremely powerful and looked very real.
Q: No holds barred fight, who would win, Jacob or Edward. Same thing with you and Rob? Lautner: Oh man. I don’t know between me and Rob. He actually does a lot of boxing in his time off, so it might be a good match-up. Jacob, we were actually discussing this on set, it’s funny we were like “who would win in a fight between Jacob and Edward,” because there’s a scene outside Bella’s house where Edward grabs my shoulder and he’s mad at me and Jacob doesn’t take that. So he takes his arm and rips it off. And at that moment, Jacob would transform into a wolf and we’re having this discussion that got really deep, we’re like “if I were to poof into a wolf right now, what would happen? Who would win?” I don’t know, our discussion points were like “usually, we’re with our pack so if I’m without my pack, am I gonna be weaker?” So I honestly don’t know. That discussion is still up in the air. We should probably get Stephenie Meyer on the line and ask her.
Q: How does being part of this phenomenon transform you? Lautner: Really, I’d have to say the biggest transformation would be my schedule. I’m really really busy, but it’s a lot of fun. I just got back from South America yesterday and here I am today for three days and then I go to Europe. So I’m really really busy but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a great experience, I’m really excited to be part of this thing.
Q: Have Robert and Kristen given you advice on how to enjoy this moment? Lautner: No, I mean I think most of our advice and talking and stuff has just pretty much stayed on a business level. And that’s the great thing with our relationship, is where all of us are completely open and not afraid to hold anything back, we talk about our characters together and we have meetings and we discuss our characters and it’s really, really helpful. But we haven’t gotten into life talks yet.