Taylor Lautner grew up and buffed out over the course of the five Twilight films, transitioning from just a few minutes of screen time in the first film to being a major player in the series as Edward's rival for Bella's attention. But that love triangle is drastically altered with the final two films of the series - Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Part 2 - as Taylor's Jacob has a new, albeit bizarre, love interest. Discussing how to play his character's 'imprinting' on Edward and Bella's child, Lautner agreed it was a fine line to walk to keep the concept from being overly creepy.
"I was worried about it," admitted Lautner at the LA press day. "We were very fortunate to have Stephenie Meyer, the author, on set with us for these last two movies. I definitely had quite a few conversations with her. There's really nobody better to ask about it than her, and she basically told me, 'Stop over-complicating it.' She's like, 'Just think here and now. That’s all you really have to focus on. It’s simple.' She said that it’s a lifelong bond between two people and that’s it. At this point, the girl's like, what, 10 years old? So it’s more of a protective thing, like a brother-sister. That’s really all that it is. I couldn’t allow myself to think ahead and go beyond that, so that’s the zone I had to stay in. I think Bill [Condon], our director, did a tremendous job with it because it is delicate. I think the fans are going to be happy with it. I think it came together well."
Taylor Lautner Press Conference
If you could go back to before you shot Twilight, what advice would you give yourself?
"I don’t know. Honestly, I’d probably just say, 'Soak up each and every moment.' Because it's lasted so long...it’s been live four or five years but at the same time, it seems like it was just beginning yesterday. It flew by and so many things have happened since then. I feel like I did do a decent job at this and I knew at the time that it was going to go by fast. 'Just soak up each and every moment and enjoy it.' That’d probably be the biggest thing."
"I remember meeting Kristen for sure. It’s so weird, I don’t even remember meeting Rob. [Laughing] It's so strange. I didn’t even have any scenes with Rob in the first one. Kristen, it was kind of awkward for me because I was showing up mid-way through filming. I was only in two or three scenes in the first movie, and everybody had relationships and knew each other and it was already this family environment. I was kind of barging in so I was nervous. I was also the youngest. Actually, it probably was a little awkward when we were first meeting each other. We were filming the scene on the beach and the weather was insane. It was pouring rain. There was wind. I was wearing a nasty wig. It was just very uncomfortable. But, ever since then it’s been great."
What have you learned from this experience and from playing Jacob?
"I’ve learned a lot, in the sense that I’ve just grown up a ton. I did start this when I was 15 years old, so that's kind of just bound to happen - but it's also kind of an accelerated rate. And also as an actor, having an opportunity to work with some of the people in this franchise... I love the fact that we had different directors for each movie, except for these last two. That was amazing to play the same character but be directed in a different way every time and have different input. It's kind of an actor’s dream because of that and to play one character for so long. When you do a normal film, you play the character for three months and then you say goodbye to him. And then you watch the movie and you're like, 'I wish I could have done that differently. I wish I could have added this to it.' With this, you had four more movies to play with. It was an amazing experience.
I love Jacob! I really respect him in so many different ways, and he has so many qualities to him that I would love to bring with me, his loyalty, his persistence... He’s going to be a tough character to say goodbye to, for sure."
Can you talk about the bond you'll always share with Rob and Kristen?
"That's the biggest thing I’ll take from this is those relationships. We’re so close right now. They’re some of my best friends and that won’t go away, at all. It’ll be more difficult because we don’t have the excuse to spend months and months, day after day with each other. But our friendships will go on forever.
I find it so amazing that this cast meshed so well and got along so well. We are so thankful for that. We had a blast every time we filmed these movies, every time we promote them, and I really think that’s a miracle. It was an amazing experience and those relationships are going to be the biggest thing that I’ll take from it."
Can you talk about the scene where you have to wolf-out in front of Charlie (Billy Burke)? Was that as funny to film as it was to watch?
Yeah, it actually was pretty funny in person. I love Billy Burke to death and he’s one of the coolest people alive, so it was a little uncomfortable for me. It’s always uncomfortable when I have to take my shirt off or something because I’m always the only one doing it. With the weather conditions we film in, everybody’s bundled up in seven layers and I’m the only one in jean shorts. So, it's awkward to begin with. But, yeah, that was a new one. I think the pants came off in that one, too. It was a funny, funny scene. I was so nervous to film it because it was written so hilarious and I wanted it to come across that way. I hope it does. It was a blast to shoot."
Speaking of that wig from Twilight, what did you do with it after?
"It’s a regret I have because every time an actor finishes a movie, you have a picture wrap and everyone claps for them and it’s this big thing. The last scene I filmed with the wig, I took it off and they picture-wrapped my wig. They were like, 'All right, that’s a franchise wrap on Jacob’s wig.' Everybody knew how much I hated that thing, so everybody was so happy for me. They asked me, 'Do you want it?,' and I was like, 'No, get that thing away from me!' I told them that they could burn it. And now looking back on it, of course I’m like, 'Man, I should’ve kept that thing!' But, no, I don’t have fond memories of that wig."
Can you discuss the scene with Kristen Stewart where, as Bella, she decides she wants to kick your butt?
"That scene is probably my favorite in the movie. That was a fun scene to shoot, and to see Kristen that way was incredible. That scene is hysterical. It’s a completely different side of Jacob than we’d ever seen before. It’s the first time we’ve seen Bella like that. The visual of Kristen chucking me around - she had a lot of fun with it and I did as well. I love that scene! It came together. In the book it was so awesome and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It's great."
What’s been the weirdest thing that's happened with a Twilight fan?
"I wouldn’t call it weird, but I find this one baffling that somebody would want to do this to themselves. When we’re at signings and stuff, it’s crazy and madness and everybody’s throwing Sharpies at you and they have things for you to sign, and sometimes they just want you to sign their body parts. They'll just be like, 'Sign my arm!' You just sign whatever they throw at you. So I signed this girl’s arm. I sign a lot of people’s arms, but this one in particular, I remember signing her arm. And then the next day - the very next day - somebody, a family member or something, shot me an email and it was a link to this girl who had my signature tattooed to her arm. I'm like, 'Man, that’s dedication! I’m sorry you did that.'
I don't know. These fans are passionate and they continue to blow my mind, every single day."
Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you hadn't gotten the role of Jacob? Back when Twilight came out there were reports that you might not be able to bulk up enough for the part.
"Yeah, I guess I have, but not really. During the whole time, I couldn’t even let my mind go there. I was so focused for that year period. I just had my eye on one goal and there were a lot of things I had to do in order to get there. I wasn’t going to let anything happen. And don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of support from the fans, from [director] Chris Weitz, and from Kristen Stewart, that I owe a lot to. But it required a lot. Thinking back to every day in that gym, every burger patty shoved down my throat, every protein shake, all that stuff, and it was worth it."
What’s next for you? Do you see yourself doing something similar or something completely different?
"I love challenging myself and doing different things and exploring different areas that I haven’t been to or gone to before. That’s what I love about acting; that’s what I love about film. Some of the actors that I love the most have challenged themselves throughout their entire career. That’s my goal. I’m really excited about a few things that I will most likely be starting really soon. I’m re-teaming with the producers of Twilight, who I love and who I have an amazing relationship with, on an awesome script that I'm excited about. It’s different for me. It’s very serious and dramatic, and I’m excited to do something like that next. But, I love all aspects of film and all genres. That's my goal."
In Breaking Dawn Part 2, your character delivers a lot of the comic relief while in Part 1 he was very dramatic. How was it to shoot these films together and bounce back in forth day by day?
"It was tough. I knew that filming the movies together was going to be challenging because literally some days we woke up and the first scene we filmed was from Breaking Dawn Part 1, and then you had lunch, and then you had to change clothes and film a scene from Breaking Dawn Part 2. What I love about this character the most is that he never stops changing throughout this whole franchise. He takes huge leaps. But, it’s a completely different Jacob in Part 2 and I just had to really focus. Keeping the book on hand is always helpful, and once again Stephenie [Meyer] being on set was helpful, as well. But, I loved playing the new side to Jacob in this last one. He finally knows who he is and where he belongs, and he has a lot of stress taken off his shoulders. It was nice to play more of that comedic side to him and see him smile every once in a while. It was a lot of fun."
At the end of the road, what is the greatest thing you learned about yourself through this Twilight process?
"Man, what is the greatest thing I learned about myself? Yikes! That’s a good question. I don’t know if I would be able to choose one thing. As an actor, I’ve learned so much and the people that have surrounded me, I’ve taken so much from. ...You got me stuck on that one. But moving forward, I can’t be more thankful for this franchise and everything it’s given all of us. It’s given us the opportunity to do things that we love and to be able to pick and choose, to a certain extent, certain ways that we want to challenge ourselves. I wouldn’t be able to do that without this, so I can’t be more thankful for everybody involved in this and the opportunities that this franchise has given me. That’s an exciting feeling, and I’m so honored."
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