November 12, 2012
Lautner will miss the werewolf
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

Taylor Lautner (Reuters files)

Taylor Lautner, youngest of three actors who became pop culture sensations in The Twilight Saga, is the only one who almost lost his job before mega-fame hit. Now, at 20, he looks back with wry amusement because he treasures his role as First Nations werewolf Jacob Black.

"I love Jacob," Lautner tells a press conference to support the finale, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2. "I really respect him in so many different ways. He has so many qualities to him that I would love to bring with me." Lautner cites "his loyalty" and "his persistence" as prime examples. "He is going to be a tough character to say goodbye to, for sure."

The producers almost said goodbye to Lautner after Catherine Hardwicke's original Twilight movie in 2008, despite the 15-year-old's breakout awards and Team Jacob fanbase. New director Chris Weitz wanted to re-cast Jacob (allegedly with Michael Copon) because the "new" Jacob in New Moon was much bulkier and more muscular.

While Lautner was fit -- after years of intense karate lessons during school in Michigan and then California, where his parents moved to support Lautner's career -- the teen was still rail-thin. Yet Weitz and Summit Entertainment relented. Lautner kept the role, but he had to hit the gym and bulk up with 30 pounds of muscle.

Lautner says he never wavered. "During the whole time, I couldn't let my mind go there. I was so focused for that year period. I just had my mind on that goal. There were a lot of things I had to do in order to get there but I wasn't going to let anything happen."


He credits support from fans, Weitz and co-star Kristen Stewart for inspiration. "But it required a lot. Thinking back to every day in that gym, every burger pattie I was shoving down my throat, every protein shake ... all that stuff ... it was worth it!"

The five-year production cycle for The Twilight Saga is now Lautner's rites-of-passage, just as the saga is a rites-of-passage for Stewart's character, Bella Swan, whom Jacob loves. "I've learned a lot in the sense that I've grown up a ton," Lautner says. "I did start this when I was 15 years old, so that's just kind of bound to happen. But also it's kind of an accelerated rate."

While Lautner has maintained his accelerated fitness, too, he also has a sense of humour about pulling off his shirt -- again -- this time in a Part 2 scene opposite Billy Burke (who plays Bella's father, Charlie Swan, police chief in Forks, Washington).

"It actually was pretty funny in person," Lautner admits. "I love Billy Burke to death. He is one of the coolest people alive. So it was a little uncomfortable for me. And I think the pants come off in that scene, too. But it was a funny, funny scene and I was so nervous to film it because it was written so hilarious and I wanted to come across that way. So I hope it does."