Taylor Lautner was only 15-years-old when he appeared in Twilight as Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) best friend, Jacob Black, a member of the Wuileute Indian tribe.
Following the phenomenal success of the movie, there were rumors that he would be replaced for the sequel, New Moon, because the studio felt he was too young to pull off Jacob’s transformation into a werewolf, and to be an convincing romantic rival to Edward Cullan (Robert Pattinson), for Bella’s affections. His cast mates all fought for him to stay in the role, and the movie’s new director Chris Weitz agreed.
At the press conference for the film, Taylor was confident, humble and thoroughly charming.
Did you ever fear that you were in danger of not getting the role in this movie?
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. That’s what I stayed focused on the whole entire time.
Did that start with going to the gym and gaining 30 pounds?
Absolutely, yeah, Jacob transforms a lot in New Moon, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well, so it was a matter of getting into the gym, and eating the right foods, but also reading and studying the book and my character, over and over and over again, so I could have his character down well, because he changes in many different ways.
Can you talk about those changes?
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.
You certainly have a lot of opportunities to show off your physique, particularly when you take your shirt off.
To wipe her blood? (he laughs) I start laughing so hard every time I see that scene. ‘Oh, you’re bleeding? Okay, let me fix it.’ It’s so embarrassing. Here’s the thing, there’s a reason that he’s not wearing clothes all the time.
When he transforms [into the werewolf] 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.
What kind of workout did you do for this film?
I was in the gym about five days a week, because it’s important to get your recovery time, and not overworking yourself, because I was trying to put on weight, and if I was in the gym too much I’d be burning the calories I’m trying to take in.
The most important thing was the eating side, I was motivated so getting in the gym was easy for me, but the eating was pretty hard. We found out that I had to consume at least 3200 calories a day just to maintain. And I was not trying to maintain, I was trying to gain, so I had to eat more than that.
I literally would have to carry a little baggie full of beef patties, raw almonds and sweet potatoes to eat every two hours.
When I watched the movie I couldn’t understand why Bella would take Edward over you.
Thank you very much, that’s good to hear. Honestly, I think it just depends on what kind of girl you are, what kind of guy you like. Edward and Jacob are complete opposite guys; they’re hot and cold, literally!
I personally love Jacob and Bella’s relationship, how they begin as best friends and it starts to grow and it’s 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.
What was doing the physical stunts in the film like for you?
The physical side was really fun. Some of it was challenging. I’d never ridden a dirt bike before, and yes I rode the dirt bike for a total of about 5 seconds in the film, but for those 5 seconds I had to look as cool as possible. So it did require a lot of practice just for safety-wise, so they could let me do it.
And you do wirework in it as well.
Yeah, I had run up the side of Bella’s house. The wires were there just so if I slipped and fell I didn’t face plant into the ground. But it was definitely challenging, that stunt was really complicated.
At one time I’m using a little plug in the side of the wall just to take off from and jump, so it required a lot of practice. Every single weekend I would practice that stunt for three hours a day and it was the last thing we filmed.