Taylor Lautner in a interview with IESB
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is sure to shine the spotlight on actor Taylor Lautner, way more so than he received for his performance in Twilight. Even though legions of fans already love him for being a part of the first film, New Moon showcases his talents as Jacob Black, the werewolf vying for the affections of best friend Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), while her vampire love is gone.
The personable and gracious 17-year-old is soaking up all of the extraordinary experiences being a part of this film franchise has brought him and is taking it all in stride, as he prepares for the release of New Moon. At the film's press day, Taylor Lautner talked about proving his ability to convincingly portray the transformation of Jacob Black.
Q: Did it ever feel like you were really in danger of not getting the role in this movie?
Taylor: 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.
Q: Did that start with going to the gym and gaining 30 lbs?
Taylor: 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, it was also about 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, many different ways
Q: How does he change?
Taylor: Basically, my job was to continue what I started in Twilight, which was this extremely happy, friendly, outgoing guy, who is best friends with Bella. I had to continue that for the first half of the film, but as soon as he transforms, he snaps and becomes a completely different person. He's dealing with his issues and it's really hard for him.
Q: You have a lot of opportunities in the film to show off your new physique, like when Jacob takes off his t-shirt to wipe Bella's blood.
Taylor: I start laughing so hard, every time I see that scene. "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. One, 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 that 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. The thing is, I love this character and 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 lbs, I'm ready to do it.
Q: What exactly did you do to change your body so drastically? What did you eat? How did you exercise?
Taylor: I was in the gym about five days a week because it's important to get your recovery time and not overwork yourself. 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. Everybody thinks it was the actual getting in the gym, but that was easy. I was motivated. 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 was trying to gain, so I had to eat more than that. And, I had to put something in my mouth, every two hours. I'm busy. I'd be in downtown L.A., going from meeting to meeting, and there was not time for me to be eating. So, I literally would have to carry a little baggie of beef patties, raw almonds and sweet potatoes. It was difficult.
Q: Do you have a personal trainer?
Taylor: I do. I definitely had one that helped me out.
Q: Was there any concern about Jacob overshadowing Edward? Was that something you had to temper, in your own performance?
Taylor: I think it depends on what kind of girl you are and what kind of guy you like. Edward and Jacob are completely 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.
Q: Can you talk about the stunt and wire work? How difficult was that to get used to?
Taylor: The physical side was really fun. Some of it was challenging. I'd never ridden a dirt bike before. Yes, I rode the dirt bike for a total of about five seconds in the film, but for those five seconds, I had to look as cool as possible, so it did require a lot of practice, safety-wise, for them to let me do it. And, like when I run up the side of Bella's house, the wires were there so that, if I slipped and fell, I didn't face plant into the ground. It was definitely challenging. That stunt was really complicated. You need to be on. I was using a little plug in the side of the wall to take off from and jump, so it was really complicated and it required a lot of practice. Every single weekend, I would practice that stunt, for three hours a day. It was the last thing we filmed.
Q: What was it like to bond with the other Wolf Pack guys?
Taylor: The bonding with the werewolves was very fun. Those guys are characters. They're great guys. What's so great is that they each fit their character perfectly. On set, we just had a blast. They just made it so exciting.
Q: They were talking about getting the Wolf Pack tattoo for real. Are you in?
Taylor: I don't know. I'll have to think about that. I'll have to discuss it with my pack.
Q: What is the strangest thing that has ever been written about you?
Taylor: 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 that I have heard recently, which is not true and I definitely didn't say it, was when I was quoted as saying I will never take my shirt off for a movie again. If I have to and the character requires it, I will. Who knows? In 10 years, I might do that. It's just what the character requires. So, that was interesting to see.
Q: How do you balance letting the public and fans know who you really are, outside of Jacob, while still keeping your private life private?
Taylor: It's difficult. It's definitely important to stay true to yourself and stay close to those people you were close to before, like your family and friends, and just not let that outside stuff get to you.
Q: This movie is going to make you a bigger star. Going into this movie with a bigger role, how did you prepare yourself for that?
Taylor: I don't think there's any way to prepare yourself for this phenomenon, just 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 just blew into this whole other world. I don't think that 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. This movie definitely develops their relationship and sets up the love triangle, so it's a very important story.
Q: What is it like for you to see all the posters and billboards with your face on it? Is that strange for you?
Taylor: 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.
Q: What was it like to film Valentine's Day with Taylor Swift?
Taylor: That movie was a lot of fun, and it comes out pretty soon after New Moon does. It's going to be fun. There were a lot of fantastic actors in it. I got to work with legendary director Garry Marshall, and Taylor was great as well. I'm excited for everyone to see that.
Q: When will that be out?
Taylor: In February.
Q: Was it hard to squeeze that in with your schedule?
Taylor: It was hard, yeah. We had a very short break, between New Moon and Eclipse, and I knew that I wanted to be part of this film somehow, just to work with Garry and the entire cast. I was able to squeeze a short thing in, quickly.
Q: What about you and Taylor Swift? Is that a publicity thing because the film is coming out, or are you really dating?
Taylor: 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.
Q: How freeing was it to get rid of Jacob's wig?
Taylor: It was very freeing. 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. It was also very itchy, hot and annoying. And, 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'd be spitting hair out in the middle of the scene. I'm coming this close to kissing Bella and I'd have to spit my hair out. It was annoying.
We actually had a picture wrap on the wig. The crew claps for you at the end of shooting. My last day of filming with the wig, we ripped it off, held it up in the air and were 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.
Q: You know, there's practically an international countdown for your 18th birthday. Have you thought at all about how you'd like to celebrate?
Taylor: I haven't even begun. We are so busy, I'm taking one day at a time. I wasn't aware of this countdown. It's a big day, so yeah, as soon as I finish promoting New Moon, maybe I'll be able to think about that.
Q: Have you had a particularly touching or sweet fan encounter?
Taylor: Man, we have fans all the time that will just burst into tears, and that's just moving. 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. I'm like, "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
Q: When would it help, in your real life, to turn into a werewolf?
Taylor: 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, or you get in a fight with your little sister. That's a good question. I don't think that it would be a good situation. It could get very, very ugly
Q: Who would win in a fight between Shark Boy and Jacob?
Taylor: That's a good question. At the moment, I'd have to say Jacob. Wolves are pretty strong and fast.
Q: What was it like to say goodbye to both Edi Gathegi and Rachelle Lefevre? Have you gotten to know Bryce Dallas Howard?
Taylor: It was definitely sad to see both of them go. The whole entire cast loves both of them. They are great people. But, Bryce is amazing. She's extremely talented and a great girl, as well. We're definitely lucky to be surrounded by an amazing cast.
Q: Who else are you close to?
Taylor: 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 because all my scenes are involved with her, so Kristen and I are very close. I guess I'm close with Rob, too, 'cause we spend a lot of time together as well. But, the great thing about this series is that 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.
Q: What has it been like working in Vancouver, Canada?
Taylor: Canada is great. I've spent a while there. I've spent six months out of this year. The first time we were there, it was really rainy, dark and cloudy. It was snowing. That was difficult weather-wise. But, it's just one of the most beautiful cities and I'm definitely going to miss it a lot.
Q: How was it to film Eclipse? What can you say about that film?
Taylor: Filming Eclipse was beautiful. 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.
Q: How cold and how challenging was it not to shiver during that scene in the rain between Jacob and Bella?
Taylor: The challenging thing is that 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 break-up 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 pouring rain on top of us. It was not regular rain. It was 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. It was hard. As soon as we'd call cut, we'd run over to a heater quick and wrap ourselves in blankets. We'd have 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 that during the scene, I wasn't sitting there shivering. It was hard. Sometimes I'd catch myself and I'd have to stop.
Q: You didn't catch a cold?
Taylor: No, I didn't. I'm really surprised by that, actually. I thought for sure that I was going to get sick.
Q: In the movie, Jacob speaks Spanish to Bella. Do you speak any Spanish at all, and are you going to speak more Spanish in Eclipse?
Taylor: I don't speak much Spanish. I took it in school, but that was about it. I think it's just Jacob's personality. He's really outgoing and he's random. It definitely doesn't have anything to do with his character. It's just the fact that he's friendly and you never know what to expect.
I didn't speak any Spanish in Eclipse. That was a bummer. But, at the end of this one I did speak a little bit of Quileute, when I was leaning in to kiss her in the kitchen. I'm not gonna tell you what I said. I'll leave that to you to figure out. But, it was really cool. There's only like four people left in the world that actually speak Quileute, and we were able to talk to one of these ladies. It was really interesting.
Q: What did you think of your wolf, when you got to see it on screen?
Taylor: I was blown away. I was really excited. When I was filming the famous trailer shot, where Jacob is running through the field, and I jump up and fly in midair, I was attached to wires. I was running and I let the wires pull me up in the air and jerk me to a stop, and I just had to freeze there and let them convert my body into a CGI wolf. The whole time, I was like, "I hope I look cool." And, after I saw the final version, it was amazing. The fight scene that comes right after that, between Jacob and Paul, was so cool. I thought they were extremely powerful and looked very real.
Q: With you being so busy and this being the end of your teenage years, how are you trying to relish it and make sure that this isn't all a blur in five years?
Taylor: 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.
Q: Who would win in a fight between Jacob and Edward? And what about between you and Rob?
Taylor: Oh, man. I don't know about between me and Rob. He actually does a lot of boxing, in his time off. It might be a good match-up. We were actually discussing who would win in a fight between Jacob and Edward, while we were on set. There's a scene outside Bella's house where Edward grabs Jacob's shoulder and Jacob doesn't take that, so takes his arm and rips it off, and that moment Jacob would transform into a wolf.
We were having that discussion and it got really deep. We were like, "If Jacob were to poof into a wolf right now, what would happen? Who would win?" Our discussion points were that wolves are usually with their pack, so if Jacob is without his pack, is he going to be weaker? Honestly, I don't know. That discussion is still up in the air. We should probably get Stephenie Meyer on the line and ask her.
Q: Aside from the physical, how has being part of this phenomenon transformed you?
Taylor: Really, I'd have to say the biggest transformation would be my schedule. I'm really, really busy, but it's a lot of fun. I just got back from South America and I am in Los Angeles for three days, and then I go to Europe. I'm really, really busy, but it's been a lot of fun. It's been a great experience. I'm really excited to be a part of this thing.
Q: With Rob and Kristen being a bit older than you, have they given you any advice about enjoying the moment?
Taylor: No. I think most of our talking has pretty much stayed on a business level, and that's the great thing with our relationship. All of us are completely open and not afraid. We don't hold anything back. We talk about our characters together, and have meetings to discuss our characters. It's really, really helpful, but we haven't gotten to life talks yet.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens in theaters everywhere on November 20th, 2009.