Snark all you want about 'Twilight,' its fan base and its young stars, but the film series has become a cultural phenomenon over the last five years. Thank goodness then -- by all accounts -- Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are able to handle the immense fame that comes with the 'Twilight' territory. Lautner is the last of the trio to branch out on his own -- and he does so with gusto in the new action thriller 'Abduction.' Is the soon-to-be erstwhile Jacob Black nervous about his first job as a leading man?
[Deep voice] Welcome to Moviefone!
Ha! What's the name of the movie you want to see.
Well played. Let's get to 'Abduction': Even having seen the trailers, I wasn't prepared for how physical the role was for you. Was that one of the things that drew you to the script initially?
It definitely was. There were a lot of things that drew me to this role. I knew it would be challenging all around. Obviously, physically, but even emotionally. My character goes through so much in this movie. So just to be able to dive into his shoes and experience the journey he goes on was quite incredible for me as an actor. This one stretched me as an actor, more than I've ever been stretched before. That was very exciting.
Was a lot of that stuff in the script, or did director John Singleton and screenwriter Shaun Christensen adjust the script to take advantage of your martial arts background?
There was a lot added in. There were a few things in the script -- like some of the major fight scenes. But, I don't even think the boxing scene was in the original script. All the stuff at the baseball stadium, that was really just improv. We got there on the day -- or, when we scouted the location -- we saw the huge giant glass awning thing that I slide down. We're like, "We gotta figure out how to get that in the movie." We saw all these great things that would allow me to do some Parkour. Everything in the baseball stadium was really just improv on the day.
That sparring scene with Jason Isaacs is one of your first big scenes and quite brutal.
I had never boxed before this movie, so that was new for me. And I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing. So, three months before I went to Pittsburgh to begin rehearsals, I got a boxing trainer in L.A. and started practicing five days a week. It was really intense -- just the training in general, for boxing. When we got there, Jason and I started choreography on it right away. It's a pretty long fight, and it's very specific and if one of us are off by one punch or one block, we're getting punched in the face. It required a lot of preparation. For sure.
I was struck with how director John Singleton shot that in long shots with the focus on you and Jason. It's obviously you fighting and adds a lot of immediacy and intimacy, which is not what you often see in the action genre.
[Action films] are often very cut up and very stylized. We wanted to make this movie feel as real and as grounded as possible. That's why I really wanted to do a majority of my stunts. You can tell. You can tell when it's cut up and a little fake looking. The boxing scene looks real. The fight scene in the train just looks brutal. That's because me and that guy were just doing it. Which was fun. (Laughs)
I imagine you had a pile of scripts to choose from for your first big leading man role, post-'Twilight.' What separated 'Abduction' from the rest of the pack?
Mainly this character's journey. I wanted to challenge myself to something different, something that I haven't done before. This was exactly that. I fell in love with the story and the journey this character goes on the moment I heard the idea. Then when I saw the script, I was just that much more excited. I was like, "All right. This is gonna be challenging for me as an actor. It's really going to stretch me, but it's also going to be a ton of fun to make."
It looks like you had a lot of fun. Would it make you more inclined to star in a sequel? Lionsgate is already talking about making this a franchise in the vein of the 'Bourne' movies.
I mean, yeah. It seems like everything could [have a sequel] these days. I'm just trying to take it one movie at a time and focus on 'Abduction' and make that the best movie possible. And we'll see from there. But right now, my focus is 'Abduction.'
Your focus is 'Abduction,' and you are the focus of 'Abduction.' You're front and center in the marketing, your name is above the title -- this is different than 'Twilight' where you have your fellow castmates and the built-in fan-base. Are you starting to get nervous?
I would be lying if I said I didn't feel any pressure whatsoever. But really, right now, excitement is overriding any of that. I feel like I've been waiting for so long for people to see this movie. And I'm -- we all are so proud of it. I just can't wait for people to see it, and I can't believe it's finally here. Right now, I'm proud of it, I know we gave everything we have, and I'm excited for the world to see it.
'Abduction' feels like a throwback to '80s and '90s action films. Were there any actors you had in mind when you decided to sign on?
Absolutely. I've always looked up to Tom Cruise as an actor. His career path, his choices, his choice to continually challenge himself. You look Cruise's action movies -- and the same with Matt Damon and Harrison Ford -- you look at their action movies and they're not just an action movie. They're playing characters who go through an incredible arc, that are very challenging for them, and then action just surrounds the movie and makes it that much more exciting. That's why I was so attracted to 'Abduction.' It's not just an action movie.
Are these the types of movies you want to make going forward?
My goal is to be able to challenge myself to a wide variety of roles and genres. If I have the opportunity to do that, it would be a dream come true for me. I had a great time for 'Abduction,' but now, moving forward, I'm definitely looking for something different.
Speaking of which: the new trailer for 'Breaking Dawn' is out, and it looks vastly different from the previous three films. Knowing the story and the books, was this final chapter one you were looking forward to?
No, I wasn't. We honestly have so much fun making the movies; we have a great time together. The movie, specifically, is very different than any of the other ones. 'Breaking Dawn Part 1' has challenged me as an actor more than I ever have been before. I can't wait for people to see the movie. For me, it's by far the best one.
Do you think that's because of the story in the book or because of Bill Condon's directing?
I think it's both. The book is very different. The book almost feels like a totally different series. The book is very different and it allows the characters to change. You really see all the characters in a different light than you've ever seen them before. It was going to be a challenging job for any director who took on this movie, but I have to say: Bill Condon couldn't have done a better job on set and in post-production. The movie is amazing. He is one incredible director.
Most franchise stars probably feel fatigued and ready to move on after playing the same character for so long, but that doesn't seem to be the case with you. It seems like you're almost melancholy.
Yeah, I definitely am. We all were. We've been playing these characters for four years now and we feel so close to them and we've become so close with each other, and it definitely was emotional when we finished.
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