Since the release of the first film, the Twilight phenomenon has just continued to grow exponentially. With the highly anticipated final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, hitting theaters on November 16th, fans will finally get to see the conclusion of the romantic epic that has entranced millions worldwide.
At the film’s L.A. press junket, actor Taylor Lautner talked about soaking up every moment on set, finding the fine line between Jacob caring for Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) without it being to creepy, his first impressions of co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, what he learned about both acting and himself from playing Jacob Black, how awkward it was to shoot the scene where Jacob strips and wolfs out in front of Charlie (Billy Burke), what exactly happened to that horrible Jacob wig after the first film, having Bella kick Jacob’s butt, the weirdest thing that’s happened with a fan, and where he’d like to take his career next. Hit the jump to watch the press conference or read the full transcript.
In addition, we posted 6 clips and over five minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the final Twilight film. Also, here’s our coverage of the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart press conferences.
Question: Looking back now, what advice would you give yourself, in regard to being a part of this franchise?
TAYLOR LAUTNER: I don’t know. Honestly, I’d probably just say to soak up each and every moment. It’s been four or five years, but at the same time, it seems like it was just beginning yesterday. So many things have happened since then. I feel like I did do a decent job at this, and I knew, at the time, that it would go by fast. [I would just tell myself] to soak up each and every moment and enjoy it. That’d probably be the biggest thing.
In your scenes with Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), how did you find the line between being caring but not being creepy?
LAUTNER: Yeah, it’s a fine line and I was worried about it. We were very lucky 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, and she basically told me, “Stop over-complicating it. Think here and now. That’s all you really have to focus on. It’s simple.” She said that it’s a lifelong bond between two people, and that’s it. At this point, it’s more of a brother-sister protective thing. That’s really all it 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. I think the fans are going to be happy with it.
Do you remember the first time you met Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson, and what your first impressions were of them?
LAUTNER: I remember meeting Kristen, for sure, but it’s so weird, I don’t remember meeting Rob. I didn’t even have any scenes with Rob, in the first one. With Kristen, it was awkward for me because I showed 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. 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. It was just very uncomfortable. But, ever since then, it’s been great.
As an actor, what have you learned from this experience and from playing Jacob Black?
LAUTNER: I’ve learned a lot, in the sense that I’ve just grown up a ton. I did start this when I was 15 years old, so that was bound to happen, but this was at an accelerated rate. As an actor, having an opportunity to work with some of the people in this franchise [has been great]. I love the fact that we had different directors for each movie, except for these last two. It was amazing to play the same character, but have different input each time. That’s an actor’s dream. When you do a normal film, you play the character for three months and you say goodbye to him. And then, when you watch the movie, you say, “I wish I could have done that differently. I wish I could have added this to it.” With this, we had four more movies to play with. It was an amazing experience. I love Jacob! I really respect him, in so many different ways, and he has so many qualities to him that I’d love to bring with me, like his loyalty and his persistence. He’s going to be a tough character to say goodbye to, for sure.
After sharing an experience like this, how are you bonded with Rob and Kristen now?
LAUTNER: The biggest thing I’ll take from this is those relationships. We’re so close now. They’re some of my best friends, and that won’t go away, at all. It’ll be more difficult because we won’t have the excuse of having months and months, day after day together, 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 and 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 I’ll take from it.
How funny was it to shoot the scene where Jacob has to wolf out in front of Charlie (Billy Burke)?
LAUTNER: 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 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. But, 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, and I hope it does. It was a blast to shoot.
Speaking of that wig from the first film, what did you do with it after?
LAUTNER: It’s a regret that I have. Every time an actor finishes a movie, everyone claps for them and it’s this big thing. The last scene that I filmed with the wig, I took it off and they picture-wrapped the wig. They were like, “All right, that’s a franchise wrap on Jacob’s wig.” Everybody knew how much I hated that thing, so they were happy for me. They asked me, “Do you want it?,” and I was like, “No, get that thing 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 I don’t have fond memories of that wig.
How was it to shoot the scene where Bella kicks Jacob’s butt?
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 than we’d ever seen before, and it’s the first time we’ve seen Bella like that. The visual of Kristen chucking me around, she had a lot of fun with it and I did as well. I love that scene! It really came together. In the book, it was so awesome and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
What’s been the weirdest thing that has happened with a Twilight fan?
LAUTNER: I wouldn’t call it weird, but I find it 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, and sometimes they want you to sign their body parts. 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. And then, the 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.” These fans are passionate and they continue to blow my mind, every single day.
Awhile back, you talked about being close to not getting to keep the role of Jacob. Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like, if you hadn’t been able to?
LAUTNER: I guess I have, but not really. During that whole time, I couldn’t 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. I wasn’t going to let anything happen. And don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of support, from the fans, from (director) 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 shoved down my throat, every protein shake and all that stuff, and it was worth it.
What’s next for you? What do you see yourself doing?
LAUTNER: I love challenging myself, doing different things and exploring different areas that I haven’t been to or gone to before. That’s what I love about acting, and that’s what I love about film. Some of the actors that I love most have 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, whom I love and who I have an amazing relationship with. It’s something 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.
In Breaking Dawn Part 1, your character was a conduit to the drama, but in Part 2, he brings a lot of the comic relief. How was it to shoot these films back-to-back?
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 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 having Stephenie [Meyer] on set was helpful, as well. But, I loved playing the new side to Jacob in this 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 that comedic side to him and see him smile, once in a while.
At the end of the road now, what is the greatest thing you learned about yourself from this entire experience?
LAUTNER: What’s the greatest thing I learned about myself? Yikes! That’s a good question. I don’t know that 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. You got me stuck on that one. 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 certain 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 in this and the opportunities that this franchise has given me. That’s an exciting feeling, and I’m so honored.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens in theaters on November 16th.