The action thriller Abduction tells the story of Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner), a high school teenager who has the uneasy feeling that he’s living someone else’s life. When he stumbles upon an image of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website, he realizes his parents are not his own and that his entire life is a lie. Targeted by a team of trained killers, he is forced to go on the run with his neighbor Karen (Lily Collins), who he’s been wanting to ask out for years.
At the film’s press day, actor Taylor Lautner talked about how it was his character’s journey that first drew him to this story, that they always had hundreds of female fans on set waiting to meet him, that he really enjoyed the boxing he got to do for the film, how he surprisingly got to do all of his own stunts, and how living the same life he had before all of his success helps keep him grounded. He also talked about how emotional the seven-month shoot was for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, and that he would be open to doing another film franchise again, in the future. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
We’re offering the interview two ways: you can either click here for the audio or the full transcript is below. Abduction opens September 23.
TAYLOR LAUTNER: To be honest, no! I’m sure there may be moments, if I’m tired or something, or I’m just waking up, but not really. If that’s their way of showing their passion, then I will take it.
There were girls camped out every day on the set in Pittsburgh, just to get a glimpse of you?
LAUTNER: There were a lot of fans on set. One time, we were actually there for a week, filming in this random city called Sutersville, and it had a population of 600 people. One night, we had over 800 girls on set, so there were definitely a few people driving in from different cities. It was pretty impressive. There were some great fans there in Sutersville.
How do you handle that?
LAUTNER: It was tiring because we were actually filming nights there. I would show up at 8 p.m. and work until 5 a.m., and then at 5 a.m., I would go out and there would literally be 800 people down the street. I would pretty much take pictures with all of them. It took about an hour. We tried to do it fast, but doing it fast for 800 people is still an hour. But, it was important to me.
Were there any crazy fan encounters?
LAUTNER: No, nothing crazy. I think I had like 300 people on my front lawn, at one point, but that was about it. They were behaved fans, though.
Since Twilight, you look like you have definitely slimmed down a bit.
LAUTNER: A little bit, right?
LAUTNER: It is. It’s just a different kind of working out now. Now, I get to stay more active and play more sports, which is a treat for me. I can eat what I want, which is not necessarily junk because I’ve always pretty much eaten healthy. Now, I just don’t have to force myself to eat when I’m not hungry. I don’t have somebody coming and shoving food down my throat, every five minutes. It’s great.
In this movie, five minutes in, you are shirtless. When you saw the script did you think, “Do I have to be shirtless again?!”?
LAUTNER: Well, when I saw the script for the first time, there were probably five or six shirtless scenes, and it got cut down to one short one. It has to make sense for the character. It just can’t be nonsense. So, we found the one moment where it would make sense, and that was it.
What specifically drew you to this script, in the first place?
LAUTNER: In the very first place, it was this character’s journey. Just hearing the idea of the script, and where the character starts and where he ends, and everything he deals with, I knew it would be exciting and challenging for me, as an actor. That’s what attracted me to it, originally.
LAUTNER: It was. It was actually never in the script. That was actually true for the Parkour and the glass pane that I slide down. Neither of those were in the script. But, when we went to the baseball stadium and looked at it, we were like, “Oh, we’ve got to figure out a way to incorporate this giant glass jumbo slide into it somehow.” Same with the Parkour. We just came up with an idea where the bad guy literally knocks people over, running in a straight line, and then Nathan is just all polite and does Parkour around the stadium, to not run into people.
Did you do it all yourself?
LAUTNER: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. It required a lot of preparation and a lot of work, but it was worth it.
Were there any injuries?
LAUTNER: Nothing serious. Probably the most serious thing was just a few bumps and bruises from me and Jason Isaacs’ boxing scene. It was such a long fight scene and there were so many maneuvers, if one of us was off by just one punch or one block, we were getting knocked in the face. Thankfully, we had gloves on, so it wasn’t anything too serious. But, we roughed each other up a little bit, on that one.
Where you see yourself two years from now, after all of the Twilight stuff is done? What direction do you want to go in?
LAUTNER: That is a good question. If you had asked me that question two years ago, I would not have guessed that I would be sitting here today. But, my goal is to continue to challenge myself to a wide variety of roles and genres. Another thing that attracted me to this was that it was different than anything I had ever done before, and I had a great experience with it. I love it, but now I am definitely looking forward to doing something completely different.
But, we’re not going to see you doing a musical or anything, right?
LAUTNER: I do want to challenge myself, but probably not that much. My fans would not want to see that.
LAUTNER: Yeah, if it made sense. You take it one movie at a time. If people enjoy it and I love it, then I’m definitely open to the idea.
What are your thoughts on this turning into some sort of teen Bourne franchise?
LAUTNER: I guess it could make sense, but I try and not think about it. We try to just take it one movie at a time and, right now, our focus is Abduction, and Abduction alone.
How difficult is it for you to let all of the Twilight stuff go, leaving the cast?
LAUTNER: It’s different. Whenever we would finish filming any of the other movies, we would be bummed, but we would know that it was just a matter of a few months before we would be back filming another one. So when we wrapped these last two, it was tough for us because we had been playing these characters for so long and spending so much time together for so long. It was a little emotional. But I mean the good news is, we will be able to promote them together for the next year and a half.
How was the last day of shooting?
LAUTNER: It was emotional, for sure. My last day of shooting, I was by myself, so that was kind of sad. But, my second to last day, I did a scene with me, Rob [Pattinson] and Kristen [Stewart].
How long was the shoot?
LAUTNER: Seven months because we filmed both parts together. It was five months in Baton Rouge, and then two months in Vancouver. It was a long time. It was like a 110-day shoot. At first, when I saw the schedule, I was like, “Woah, I am going to be tired, by the end of that.” But, it wasn’t that bad. We have a lot of fun with it and I enjoyed both of the cities we were in. It was a good time.
Do you feel like you need to take a break at all, or do you feel like you should keep the momentum going by just diving right into something else?
LAUTNER: It’s a good question. I’m having fun right now. I’m promoting and I’m traveling, which I really enjoy. I love traveling. So, I’m good to still go. But, I definitely find time to relax, and I definitely find my downtime.
LAUTNER: I’m busy. Over the past year, I’ve only been home for five weeks, but I’m definitely very close with my family. They are always visiting me. It gets lonely on set, or when you are traveling, so it’s always great to have somebody with you.
Are you still living at home, or are you going to buy your own place soon?
LAUTNER: Currently I am, but really I’m living wherever I’m filming or wherever I am promoting, Like I said, over the last year, only five weeks has been at home. I just don’t have time to even think about it. But, whenever I do have downtime and I’m here in L.A. for an extended period, I might start looking.
Were you a fan of John Singleton, before you got involved in this? Had you seen a lot of his movies?
LAUTNER: Yes, I was definitely familiar with his work and knew he was very talented.
What did he bring to this film? How was your relationship with him?
LAUTNER: We got along great. We had a fun time together. I think the biggest thing he brought was just passion. That’s the biggest think that everybody brought to this movie – the entire cast, the crew and him. We were all so passionate about this movie that we gave it our all. I think that’s the biggest thing everybody brought to it.
Was it fun to get to use your martial arts training? How different is movie martial arts from real martial arts?
LAUTNER: It was very exciting that I got to use it, for the first time in a movie. It is different because it’s all choreographed, but it was exciting. What was also exciting was being able to learn new things, like boxing, motorcycle riding and wrestling. Those were all new for me. I had to do about three months of training, in all of those aspects, before filming, which was a lot of fun.
That’s a lot of training.
LAUTNER: It was, yeah. I wanted to make sure that, when I showed up to Pittsburgh to film, I actually looked like I knew what I was doing.
Which did you like most?
LAUTNER: I really enjoyed the boxing. It was a great work-out. It’s very different than martial arts, so I had to drop everything I knew and start brand new and fresh, which was exciting for me.
LAUTNER: Boxing is so loose and flowy, and martial arts is more stiff, and about strength and structure. It’s such a great work-out because my sessions were an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half, but by the end of it, you barely even realize you worked out that hard and you are just dripping wet. I don’t even think I worked that hard in two-a-days when I was doing football in high school. It’s a great work-out. But, I think they took it a little light on me because they knew I might need that face, in a couple of months.
What was the scariest stunt that you had to do?
LAUTNER: Well, the scary thing is that I didn’t find any of them scary.
Not even riding on the hood of the car?
LAUTNER: See, that was just fun to me. I was so excited about that one, and that one definitely took a lot of negotiating to allow me to do it, with the producers and the insurance, and all of that stuff. At first, it was, “No, you’re absolutely not doing that! There’s no way we’re putting you on the hood of the truck.” Somehow, I was able to convince them to allow me to do it, but they were like, “Okay, but you’re only going 20 or 25 mph.” I was like, “Come on people, haven’t you ever heard of method acting? I’ve got to feel the adrenalin.” We ended up getting to 50 or 55 mph, which was fun. It’s still not the 80 mph that you see on the speedometer, but it was pretty fast.
Was there anything that they didn’t let you do, that you really wanted to do?
LAUTNER: I know, right?! The two major ones that I was most nervous about them not letting me do were the hood of the truck and the sliding down the glass, and I was able to do them. It was fun.
What was it like to work with Lily Collins? What was she like, as a co-star?
LAUTNER: She was great! She was awesome! She’s super-talented, and I’m so excited for people to see her in this movie. Now, she’s taken off, and going off and doing other things. It was just a matter of time before she was discovered.
She had some physical work with you, too.
LAUTNER: Yeah, she’s with me. Besides the stadium, she’s with me the entire time. Pretty much everything I’m doing, she’s doing. She was a tough cookie. She enjoyed it, though. We had fun doing stunts. She was actually just as bad as me. She wanted to do everything as well, and I was like the insurance going, “I don’t know if you should do that.”
Is there other stuff you want to do in the film business? Do you have any desire to direct or write something for yourself?
LAUTNER: Maybe I’ll direct, down the road. I’m definitely loving what I’m doing right now, and that’s what I’m focusing on. But, I’ve always been super-interested in all aspects of film. Ever since I was in video production class in high school, it was a dream of mine to be involved in movie-making, not only in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well. That’s why this movie was such a dream come true for me. It’s my production company’s first movie, and being able to be involved from the ground up, in developing the story and creating the characters and the journey that they go on. It was a lot of fun for me.
LAUTNER: I don’t know if there was one movie. There are a few actors, like Tom Cruise, Matt Damon and Leonardo [DiCaprio]. I’ve always looked up to them. They’ve definitely inspired me, since I was very young.
How did being top billing on the set affect you? How did you deal with all the extra responsibility?
LAUTNER: I wasn’t thinking about it then. I wasn’t thinking about it while we were making the movie. It honestly felt like a huge team effort, especially being surrounded by people like Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs. It definitely was a major team effort.
When you get this famous, this fast, are there things that you do to keep yourself grounded?
LAUTNER: Thankfully, I don’t know how I’ve been able to do this, but I still have the same life that I always had before. Instead of changing my entire life and having a brand new life, I have the new life, which is very exciting and I get to do what I love to do, but then I have the same life that I had before. I go home and see my family, and hang out with my friends, and I play football, and I help out around the house, and do the same things. I think that is really important. That’s what helps you stay grounded.
What do your friends think about your success?
LAUTNER: Honestly, my friends treat me the exact same way, which is great. I wouldn’t want it any other way. That would just be weird. But, they’re very supportive. They come out to the premiere and see the movie, but they still razz me. We’re still competitive. It’s all the same things we were before. They treat me the exact same way.
So, no jealousy?
LAUTNER: No. I’m sure [there would be], if they were in the entertainment industry, but no, definitely not.