Taylor Lautner reprises his role as Jacob Black in “Breaking Dawn, Part 2,” the fifth and final installment of the Twilight saga which opens in theaters on November 16th. The split in the pack from “Breaking Dawn, Part 1” is healed. Jacob and Sam Uley (Chaske Spencer) have reconciled. The Volturi have come back into the picture and everyone has a lot to lose. While Jacob still cares deeply about Bella, his priority is now Renesmee.
At the film’s press day, Lautner talked about what he loves most about his character, how it’s been an actor’s dream to work with multiple directors including Bill Condon, how Stephenie Meyer helped him find the line between being caring but not creepy in his scenes with Renesmee, how he had fun shooting the scene where his character ‘wolfs out’ in front of Charley (Billy Burke), his strangest encounter ever with a Twilight fan, and the close bond of friendship that he will continue to share with Rob and Kristen now that the series has ended. He also discussed what he learned personally from the experience of playing Jacob and why he’s honored to have been part of the franchise.
Question: If you could go back in time and give yourself any advice about how to prepare for this crazy experience, what would it be and what would you do differently?
Taylor Lautner: Oh man, 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 four or five years, but at the same time, it seems like it just began yesterday. It flew by and so many things have happened since then. I feel like I did do a decent job at this. I knew at the time it was going to go by so fast. So, I’d say just to soak up each and every moment and enjoy it. That’d probably be the biggest thing.
Q: In your scenes with Renesmee, can you talk about finding the line between being caring but not creepy?
Lautner: Yeah, it’s a fine line and I was worried about it. We were very fortunate to have Stephenie Meyer, the author, on set with us for these last two movies, and I definitely had quite a few conversations with her. There was nobody better to ask about it than her. She basically told me to stop overcomplicating it. She was like, “Just think here and now. That’s all you really have to focus on and it’s simple.” She said that it’s a lifelong bond between two people, and that’s it. At this point, the girl is 10 years old, so it’s more of a protective thing between a brother and sister. That’s all it really is. I couldn’t allow myself to think ahead and go beyond that, so that’s the zone I had to stay in. Bill Condon, our director, did a tremendous job with it because it is delicate, and I think the fans are going to be happy with it. I think it came together well.
Q: It’s been a crazy five years for all of you. Do you remember the first time you met Kristen and Rob and what were your impressions of them?
Lautner: I remember meeting Kristen for sure. It’s so weird. I don’t even remember meeting Rob. It’s so strange. I didn’t even have any scenes with Rob in the first one. With Kristen, it was 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 and I was kind of barging in. I was nervous. I was also the youngest. Actually, it probably was a little awkward when we first did meet each other. We were filming a scene on the beach and the weather was insane. It was pouring rain. There was wind. I was wearing a nasty wig and it was just very uncomfortable. But, ever since then, it’s been great.
Q: What have you learned from this experience and from Jacob?
Lautner: I’ve learned a lot in the sense that I’ve grown up a ton, because I did start this when I was 15 years old, so that was just bound to happen. But also, this happened at an accelerated rate. Also, as an actor, I loved having the opportunity to work with some of the people in this franchise and the fact that we had different directors for each movie, except for these last two. I mean, that was amazing to play the same character but be directed in a different way every time and have different input. That’s 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 go, “I wish I could have done that differently. I wish I could have added this to it.” With this, you have four more movies to play with. So, it was an amazing experience. In terms of Jacob, 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.
Q: Can you talk about the bond you will continue to share with Rob and Kristen as time goes by, no matter what happens, and how you see that going forward?
Lautner: That’s the biggest thing I’ll take from this — 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.
Q: Can you talk about the scene where your character has to ‘wolf out’ in from of Charlie? Was that as funny to film as it was for us to watch?
Lautner: 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 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 hilariously, and I wanted it to come across that way, so I hope it does. It was a blast to shoot.
Q: Speaking of that wig, what did you do with it afterwards? Was there a ritual burning?
Lautner: It’s a regret I have. Every time an actor finishes a movie, you have a picture wrap and everybody 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, “Alright, that’s a franchise wrap on Jacob’s wig.” Everybody knew how much I hated that thing, so they were so happy for me. They asked me. They were like, “Do you want it?,” and I was like, “No, get that away from me.” I told them that they could burn it. And now, looking back on it, of course I’m like, “I should’ve kept that thing!” But no, I don’t have fond memories of that wig.
Q: Can you talk about that scene when Bella realizes what’s going to happen and goes after you?
Lautner: That scene is probably my favorite in the movie. It 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 that we’ve never seen before. It’s the first time we’ve seen Bella like that. The visual of Kristen chucking me around the back, she had a lot of fun with it, and I did as well. I love that scene and how it came together. In the book, it was so awesome and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It was great.
Q: What to date has been your strangest encounter with a Twilight fan?
Lautner: It’s tough to choose one. 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. Sometimes they just want you to sign their body parts. They’ll 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 very next day, a family member shot me an email and it was a link to this girl who had my signature tattooed on her arm. I was like, “Man, that’s dedication! I’m sorry you did that.” So, I don’t know. These fans are passionate and they continue to blow my mind every single day.
Q: At one time, you talked about almost not getting the role of Jacob because you weren’t bulked up enough. Do you ever pinch yourself and think what your life would have been like if you hadn’t gotten it?
Lautner: Yeah, I guess I have, but not really. During that 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, but I wasn’t going to let anything happen. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of support, from the fans, from Chris Weitz and from Kristen Stewart, that I owe a lot to, but it required a lot. I think back to every day in that gym, every burger patty I shoved down my throat, every protein shake, and all that stuff. It was worth it.
Q: In the film, it worked.
Lautner: Thank you!
Q: What’s next for you? Do you see yourself doing something similar or something completely different?
Lautner: 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. I mean, some of the actors that I love most have gone from this to this. They’ve 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 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, so that’s my goal.
Q: In “Breaking Dawn, Part 1,” your character was a conduit to a lot of the drama, and in “Part 2,” he contributes to a lot of the comic relief. How was it for you to bounce back and forth between the two?
Lautner: It was tough. I knew that filming the movies together was going to be challenging because some days we woke up and the first scene we filmed of the day 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 Jacob the most is that he never stops changing throughout this whole franchise, and he takes huge leaps. But, it’s a completely different Jacob in Part 2. I just had to really focus. Keeping the book on hand was always helpful, and once again having Stephenie 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.
Q: What is the greatest thing you learned about yourself from this entire Twilight experience and how will that influence your future decisions?
Lautner: What’s the greatest thing I learned about myself? Yikes! That’s a good question. (Laughs) Seriously, I’m a little upset with you now. 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. As a person… You got me stuck on that one. You really do. 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 the things that we love, and be able to pick and choose to a certain extent the 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 with this and the opportunities that this franchise has given me. That’s an exciting feeling and I’m so honored.