After playing a smaller role in the first two Twilight films, Taylor Lautner is now the center of attention in Eclipse. He talks about the hunky, buffed-up and often shirtless Jacob (who is also a werewolf) and his role in the supernatural love triangle.
Taylor Lautner is confident that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is going to be the film that finally attracts not only loyal Twi-hard fans but also the millions more of average moviegoers (who didn't catch the first two installments) to Eclipse, the most action-packed, dangerous and romance-filled motion picture of the franchise. “If you liked the first and second movies then you're definitely going to like this movie,” the 19-year-old old Lautner enthusiastically explains. “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 multiplies it by five for Eclipse. It's by far my favorite. It's exciting and it's very dangerous, because they're at war the entire time. So you still have that romance and it's even elevated because this is the height of the love triangle. But Edward and Jacob are forced to team up together and protect Bella from Victoria and Riley who are after her. You should see the movie.”
Having spent countless hours in the gym, working out even harder to possess a muscle trainer's body, Lautner's character of Jacob, who played basically a secondary role in Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, is now a main part of the action – physically and emotionally. Now one of the toughest werewolves in a clan of American-Indians who turned lycan to protect themselves from vampires, Jacob decides it's time to confront Bella (Kristen Stewart) to force her into making a decision on whether she loves the vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) or if she really loves him. Much of the film, and many of it's character's lives, hang on Bella's decision.
Lautner, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, admits he would fight for the woman he loved, but hasn't had to do it, so far. “I've never really gotten in a fight over a girl,” confesses Lautner, who has been romantically-linked to pop singer Taylor Swift. “Maybe when I was younger, in elementary school or something and there was a girl and five guys who wanted to be with that girl. You know, like fifth grade, when you had crushes. But not really seriously. Definitely not anything like Jacob and Bella's situation.. I've never been in a love triangle. I would not want to be in that situation. I wouldn't to be in Bella's situation for sure. I wouldn't want to be in Jacob's or Edward's. It's not fun. I'd have to say no, nothing seriously.”
After making a very serious and dramatic film like The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Lautner is ready to keep his conversations to promote the film (across several countries) light and fun. In Hollywood, with his Twilight cohorts Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the other room, Lautner sat down with members of the press to joke about everything from being shirtless throughout most of Eclipse to playing superhero Stretch Armstrong to director Bill Condon turning Breaking Dawn into a musical.
Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Kristen Stewart (Bella) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
Since you haven't had that much down time between the Twilight films, is it easier to just keep working out to keep the muscle mass on? More importantly, do you have a weakness for a particular food? “Occasionally, I really want some ice cream. (laughs) A little cheat a time or two doesn't hurt, but when it comes closer to the time of filming or you have a magazine photo-shoot coming up, then you really just have to stay strong and cut it out. The most interesting thing that I've found is that it's just as hard to maintain it as it was to put it on in the first place. It was really hard to put it on and it's just as hard to keep it. If I'm really busy, and I can't get into the gym, or if I'm really busy and I don't have time to eat, you lose it like that – and it takes ten times the amount of time to put it back on again. So it's tough either way.”
What was it like doing all the action in Eclipse? “I was actually bummed. There was a lot more action in this picture but for me, personally, I'm a wolf when there's any action going on. So I was bummed that I wasn't involved in doing too much action. At least I got to kiss Bella for the first time.”
Is she a good kisser? “Definitely. Bella is a fantastic kisser. So that was probably the most exciting new thing.”
The Twilight films have turned you into the new “IT GUY” in Hollywood What's it been like to get to this place that most people can only dream about. And, are you hip enough these days to have an entourage of your own? “I don't know about that? (laughs) But it's exciting. This franchise has been such an incredible platform, and so I'm thankful for the franchise and everything that it's provided, the opportunities. I've had the time of my life in the past two years, and I'm just so thankful to be in this position now. I'm having fun and making movies. It's great. I've met a lot new people and have had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of really talented people. It's amazing. That's the best word for it.”
So, you must have an entourage. (Laughs) “I wouldn't say so, no. I have a couple of people, a couple of friends.”
Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Robert Pattinson (Edward) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
You got the chance to work with Robert (Pattinson) in Eclipse more than in Twilight and New Moon combined. What was it like acting with Rob? “Yeah, you're right, but 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 for that little bit. The hardest thing that I've found in working with Rob is that usually I have to hate him in scenes and that's difficult. He's such a funny and nice guy. So literally we're doing a scene where we're yelling and screaming at each other and he's slapping my shoulder and I'm shoving him off of me and we're screaming, spitting in each other's faces and then as soon they call cut we just bust out laughing. It's really hard to be mean to Rob.”
Do you have a favorite scene between you guys? “Probably the tent scene. The tent scene is really good because it has that intensity – but it's also pretty humorous at the same time.”
One of the funniest lines in Eclipse is when you walk to Edward and Bella, without a shirt on, and Edward says, “Does he ever put on a shirt?” Was that in the script or adlibbed? “I believe that 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 fun and it was quite obvious. They pull up in the middle of the street and even the position I'm in, I'm leaning back up against the car with my hands behind me. It looks like I'm just waiting and flexing. Those are the awkward scenes, whenever everyone is fully clothed and it's raining and I'm the only person there, just waiting for them.”
Do you have a clause in your new contract about having to keep your shirt on or having to take it off?
(Laughs) “No, no. No clause. Whatever the book says that's most likely what we're going to do.”
The various members of "The Wolf Pack"
You're going to be the superhero Stretch Armstrong in your next movie, right? “Not next, but hopefully soon. Next is Abduction, and I'll just be a regular guy who's in an interesting situation. Maybe a superhero like a year from now.”
Will you have to wear your shirt in Abduction? How do you decide if he is a character for you? “It really all comes down to character. If I love the character and I love the story and the character requires me to be shirtless or if it requires me to lose thirty pounds then I'm ready to do it.”
These days, Stretch Armstrong, the doll, is shirtless, which kind of indicates that you might have to be shirtless in that movie. “They're doing all the designing and all of that stuff right now, writing the script and everything and so we haven't seen any finalized version but chances are it might be a little different.”
Do you know what Stretch's back story is going to be? “No. They're not finished with the script yet. I think they should be shortly but hopefully we'll know soon. The cool thing with the toys is that there is no story. With a superhero you have to kind of stay along with those lines. But a toy, you get to create everything which is super exciting and creative.”
What's the downside to this whirlwind of fame and attention that you have been on for the last couple of years because of Twilight? Or is there a downside? “It's hard to chose one. It really is. There are million more pros than cons, for sure. Obviously, the privacy thing, that's a little different. It's usually not normal to wake up and have twelve paparazzi cars waiting outside to follow you to Starbucks in the morning or something. But like I said there are a lot more pros and I'm willing to put up with those cons for sure.”
Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Kristen Stewart (Bella) and Robert Pattinson (Edward) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
Isn't having to deal with the paparazzi in your front yard a real pain? “Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes it becomes aggravating but you have 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, and you just can't -- sometimes it's hard -- let them affect you that much or you know it'll drive you insane. Maintaining sanity is pretty important to me. You've got to push that stuff aside. It's never normal.”
Last year, I asked you if Taylor Swift had written a song about you and you said she hadn't. Only a few days later, though, your name comes up in a monologue on Saturday Night Live. Is there anything new you want to talk about?“ I guess that one on Saturday Night Live, if you want to consider it, but that’s the most that I know. I wish I had a more exciting answer.”
How do you feel about the last Twilight film, Breaking Dawn, being released as two movies? Are you excited to be working with its director, Bill Condon, who has made everything from Dreamgirls to Gods and Monsters? “I have only met Bill once, very briefly and so we've not had time to discuss it. He seems like a very nice guy, definitely and obviously he's extremely talented. So I think that whatever comes our way he's going to be able to deal with fine but I'm looking forward to talking to him.”
And the fact that it's going to be two films? “I think that was definitely the right thing to do, because there's just so much going on with the wolf pack.. There's a lot of stuff so condensing that into one film would be a challenge. I'm pretty excited that it's going to be two.”
Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Kristen Stewart (Bella) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
Do you have any any guilty viewing pleasures like Jersey Shores or The Real Housewives of Orange County? Anything like that? “American Idol, definitely. So You Think You Can Dance as well, but American Idol would definitely be number one. I haven't missed an episode in -- what is it – nine years. I think I shouldn't have said that. I can't sing. That's the funny thing. Maybe that's why I like watching it so much because there's no way that I can do that.”
How are you able to remain balanced through all the fame and fan craziness? “That's a good question because it definitely is about surrounding yourself with your family and the friends you've known forever. I live, all of us do, in two different worlds and they're complete opposites. This is our job. We go to work and we live in this business world and then we go back to our regular world and we do the same things that we did before. I sit at home. It's not that exciting and I watch American Idol every Tuesday and Wednesday. I spend time with my family and friends. I think maintaining that world is extremely important to me.”
Do you think that Bill Condon might end up having the werewolves doing a dance number in Breaking Dawn? “I think he actually already released a statement promising that there would be no musical numbers.” (laughs)
Various members of "The Wolf Pack"
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens Wednesday, June 30, 2010 across North America