Success can be misleading. Take Taylor Lautner, for example. His meteoric rise to superstardom as Jacob Black in the Twilight franchise almost makes it look easy. If you call adding 30 pounds of muscle for a flick easy. But easy really isn't Lautner's M.O. anyway.
When Jacob 2.0 appeared in the second Twilight installment, New Moon, beefier and sporting a sharp new 'do and abs to match, his graduation from the child actor to teen heartthrob was complete. And it hasn't just been the teenybopper crowd wailing and donning Team Jacob tees while waiting in line. But as the frenzy mounted, Lautner vaulted to the top of that lofty Hollywood A-list.
The well-mannered 19-year-old actor's real aspiration isn't to bank on a washboard midsection though, but rather to flex his creative muscles. It was his main motivation in taking a break from vamps and werewolves to star in the action-thriller Abduction opening Friday.
"I've been playing Jacob for so long now, and I did this right before I
went back to Breaking Dawn," Lautner recently told us at a Miami studio's greenroom. "And it was
different. It was challenging to step outside of Jacob's skin, and
become a totally different character. And that's what Nathan is. He's
very different from Jacob. And that was tough. But it's really nice to
be able to do that."
Touching once more on the recurring theme, he adds: "It's kind of an
actor's dream to be able to go from one character to the next, and
completely different genres. And I'm really thankful that I'm able to do
that. And it would be a dream for me to be able to do the Twilight
franchise, be in that fantasy-drama genre, and then move over to this
In Abduction, he plays Nathan Harper, an average, if extraordinarily fit,
high school senior (what with Lautner still carrying werewolf weight),
complete with goofy friends, a crush on the girl next door, jock rivals
and parents who ground him when he wakes up on the lawn the morning
after a kegger.
Though his dad, played by Jason Isaacs, does teach him a lesson via a gloved sparring session more
befitting Keanu Reeves in pleather and funny shades. Cue clue number one
that something more is afoot. That something turns out to involve espionage and explosions, car chases
and criminals, all gravitating around Harper, who's unwittingly been
trained his whole life to kick ass should this day come.
"I knew it would challenge me physically--that's obvious. There were tons
of stunts, tons of fight scenes. But what was even more intriguing was
that I knew it would be challenging emotionally. My character goes
through such an incredible journey, and changes so much from the
beginning to the end. I knew that would be tough, and I was looking
forward to that challenge."
The film could best be described as a Borne-type action-thriller with
more Y.A. appeal. Though Lautner's take on it is more
action-drama-thriller-romance, "because it has all of those genres in
this one movie. I truly believe it's a movie for everyone."
Action couldn't be a better fit for Lautner. Fans don't get a sense of it watching
him morph into a giant wolf whenever it's time to throw down in the
Twilight films, but it comes naturally to Lautner.
He began studying
martial arts at the age of six and by the time he was 12, had
trained with world karate champions, took three gold medals representing
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America in the World Karate Division, and became a three-time Junior
Look for the full interview with Taylor Launtner in this week's issue.