Wolfman move over — there’s a new kid on the block. Taylor Lautner’s star has risen to sizzling heights as the sexy wolf interest in the popular Twlight series. Buzzine‘s Emmanuel Itier sits down with the newly hunky 17-year old and gets the scoop on the upcoming New Moon.
Emmanuel Itier: Did it ever feel like you were really in danger of not getting the role in this movie? And were you on steroids for those 30 pounds you gained?
Taylor Lautner: Definitely not, on your second question. And 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.
EI: Did that start with going to the gym and gaining 30 pounds?
TL: Absolutely. 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 food and a lot of it, but also reading and studying the book and the character over and over and over again so I could have his character down as well, because he changes in many different ways.
EI: Can you talk about those changes?
TL: 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. 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.
EI: You have a lot of opportunities in the film to show off your new physique. My favorite was when you take your T-shirt off…
TL: And wipe her blood?
EI: Can you talk about that scene and any others like that?
TL: I start laughing so hard every time I see that scene. “You’re bleeding? Okay, let me fix it.” It’s so embarrassing. There’s a reason he’s not wearing clothes all the time. 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. He’s also hot — he’s 108 degrees, so that’s another reason. 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 40 pounds, I’m ready to do it.
EI: Can you be more specific? Mainly because I want to do what you did. What did you eat? How did you exercise? Can you give a little more of a rundown?
TL: Oh boy. You’re putting the pressure on me now. 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. I found out that I had to consume at least 3,200 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 — I literally would have to carry a little baggie of beef patties, raw almonds, sweet potatoes…
EI: Having not read the Twilight books, seeing the movie, I’m thinking this girl is retarded. Why is she not going for Jacob? Was there any concern about overshadowing Edward? Was that something you had to temper in your own performance? Because you were very winning…
TL: Thank you very much. I think it depends on what kind of girl you are and what kind of guy you like. Edward and Jacob are complete opposite guys. They’re hot and cold — literally. I personally love Bella and Jacob’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 going to be there for Bella, and they’re protective. I just think it’s what kind of guy you like.
EI: Can you talk about the stunt and wire work? How difficult was that?
TL: The physical side was really fun. Some of it was challenging. I’d never ridden a dirt bike before, so it did require a lot of practice just for safety so they’d let me do it. And the wire work, like when I run up the side of her house, was definitely challenging. That stunt was really complicated and required a lot of practice. Every single weekend, I would practice three hours a day.
EI: What is the strangest thing that has ever been written about you?
TL: Honestly, I try to stay away from what has been written about me, ‘cause if you let that stuff get to you and it’s not true, it can drive you crazy. One thing I have heard recently, which is not true — I definitely didn’t say it — I was quoted as 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. It’s just what the character requires. So that was interesting to see.
EI: How do you balance letting the fans know who you really are outside of Jacob but also keep your private life private?
TL: It’s difficult. It’s definitely important to stay true to yourself and stay close to those people you were close to before — your family, your friends — and just not let that outside stuff get to you.
EI: This movie is going to make you a bigger star. You’ve already got a lot of teen girls who idolize you. Going into this movie with a bigger role, how did you think about that and how did you prepare yourself for that?
TL: I don’t think there’s any way to prepare yourself for this phenomenon 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 kind of just blew into this whole other world, so I don’t think there’s a way to prepare for that. 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, ‘cause this movie definitely develops their relationship and sets up the love triangle. It’s a very important story.
TL: 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. But it’s Twilight. It comes with the job.
EI: You’re filming a movie with Taylor Swift. Has she written a song about you? Do you want her to write one for you?
TL: 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 after New Moon does. There were a lot of fantastic actors in it. I got to work with legendary director Garry Marshall, and Taylor was great as well, so I’m excited for everyone to see that.
EI: What is it called?
TL: Valentine’s Day.
EI: So it will be out early next year?
TL: Yeah, in February.
EI: Was it hard to squeeze that in with your schedule?
TL: It was hard, yeah. We had a very short break between New Moon and Eclipse, and I knew I wanted to be part of this film somehow, just to work with Garry and the entire cast, so I was able to squeeze a short thing in quickly.
EI: What about you and Taylor Swift?
TL: What about us?
EI: Is it a publicity thing because the film is coming out, or are you really dating?
TL: The very funny thing is that all of you have seen every single move I make, so I guess I can leave it up to you to decide.
EI: I’m wondering about the wig — how it informs your character, and was getting rid of it freeing? Can you talk about that experience?
TL: I had a sigh of relief when you brought this up. It was very freeing. It not only was uncomfortable… One, I’d look at myself in the mirror and I wouldn’t even be able to recognize myself. It was so weird just to see that hair on me. Two, it was very itchy, hot, annoying. Also, it slowed down the filming process. Whenever it got caught in my eye or whatever, we’d have to cut and 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…sorry, I’ve got to spit my hair out. It was annoying. So the day we were able to, we actually had a picture wrap on the wig. 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 like, “That’s a picture wrap on Taylor’s wig.” The whole crew gave it a standing ovation. It was amazing. It was great to chop that thing off.
EI: You know there’s practically an international countdown for your 18th birthday.
TL: Oh boy.
EI: I wondered if you even thought about making any plans for that day and how you might celebrate?
TL: I haven’t even begun. We are so busy. It’s taking 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 and I wasn’t aware of this countdown. It’s a big day, so yeah, as soon as I finish this, maybe I’ll think about that.
EI: We’ve talked about how the fans can be invasive in your life, but what’s a touching and really sweet fan encounter you can tell us about?
TL: We have fans all the time that will just burst into tears, and that’s just moving, like it must mean so much for them to meet us. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you can touch somebody that way. It also makes you sad. “Don’t cry. Stop crying.” You don’t know what to do. You’re like, “It’s okay.” It’s hard — we feel bad for them, but you’re also happy at the same time.
EI: When would it help in your real life to turn into a werewolf?
TL: Oh boy. I don’t know. I guess when you’re younger and you’re in school and you’re being picked on by some bullies, get in a fight with your little sister…I don’t know — that’s a good question. I don’t think it would be a good situation. It could get very, very ugly.
EI: Who would win between Shark Boy and Jacob?
EI: Last year you were teamed up with Edi [Gathegi] and Rachelle [Lefevre] and you really showed what good friends you were. What’s it like to say goodbye to both of them?
TL: Yeah, it was definitely sad to see both of them go. All of us — the whole entire cast — love both of them. They were great people.
EI: Who else are you close to?
TL: I wouldn’t be able to pick one. If I were to start, I’d end up listing the whole cast. I do spend a lot of time with Kristen [Stewart] because all my scenes are involved with her, so Kristen and I are very close. I guess I’m close with Rob [Pattinson] too, ‘cause we spend a lot of time together as well. But the great thing about this series is the whole entire cast is so close, and it would be a nightmare if we weren’t. It would be impossible to make this series because the characters are so tight. So we’re really thankful that we all get along so well.
EI: Can you talk a little bit about working and now living in Canada? And tell us a little about the next movie?
TL: Canada is great. I’ve spent a while there — six months out of this year. The first time we were there, it was really rainy and dark and cloudy. It was snowing, and that was difficult weather-wise. But filming Eclipse, it was beautiful. It’s just one of the most beautiful cities, and I’m definitely going to miss it a lot. 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, where Edward is forced, and 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. 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 going to be a really good movie and visually stunning. David Slade is incredible visually.
EI: In the movie, when you show up half-naked in the rainy forest, I was shivering watching you. Can you talk about, behind camera, how cold it was and how challenging it was not to shiver?
TL: Yeah, the challenging thing is Jacob is supposed to be extremely hot, so he’s not supposed to feel cold at all. The worst scene for that was the rain scene — the breakup scene where Bella first sees Jacob after his transformation. We’re standing on this little hill right behind Jacob’s house, and it was 35 degrees and it was pouring rain on top of us — 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 filmed the same scene all day long so it was really, really rough. 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 off before we’d have to go do another take. So the weather was definitely extremely challenging. I just had to take myself to another world so, during the scene, I wasn’t sitting there shivering.
EI: You didn’t catch a cold?
TL: No, I didn’t. I thought for sure I was going to get sick.
EI: With you being so busy and this being the end of your teenage years, how are you trying to relish it and make sure this all isn’t a blur in five years?
TL: I must say I’m having the time of my life. 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 that I love, so it’s great. I’m definitely never ever going to forget this.