As The Twilight Saga draws to a close, its stars are understandably sad. After five years with these characters, it is tough to let go. Star Taylor Lautner talks about his character, Jacob, his relationship with his co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, and letting go.
How did you approach Jacob this time around? It seemed that the role had more emotional weight than ever before.
I was really excited about this one. Jacob becomes a man in this one. He has to make a lot of decisions. He's torn between his two families. It was really tough. It was by far the most challenging [Twilight] for me. I didn't know what to think going in. As soon as the three of us sat down with Bill [Condon, the director], we just dove right in. I could not have done it without Bill's help. He was amazing. He talked to us all the time, and I trusted him completely. It was really special. Now seeing the movie, I'm really happy. Jacob starts here and ends here. It's very exciting to see him in a completely different light than ever before.
What about the imprint scene, where Jacob imprints on Bella's newborn baby?
You had to go there. That was tough. What is imprinting? What do you look like when you imprint? Luckily, we had Stephanie [Meyers, author of the book series] on set the whole time. Trust me, I asked her a million times, "Okay, tell me again what imprinting is exactly" and "How did you envision Jacob doing that?" It was very confusing. It didn't help that when we filmed it, they put an X on the wall and said, "This is Renesmee. You are going to walk into the room, you are going to look at the X, and you are going to imprint." It was tough. But after seeing the final version, I am happy with it. It's emotional and they did a really good job bringing in cool flashbacks and voiceovers. It really is a special moment but on the day, it was a leap of faith.
Were you bummed that after all this time, Edward gets a hot vampire bride and you get a baby?
I've gotten over that, but I remember the first time I read the fourth book, I was dying to find out what happened. Is Edward going to get Bella? Is Jacob? I was so confused. He is trying to get Bella the whole time and he strikes out, so he goes for her child? You have to tread lightly because it is a very special thing. It's not romantic at all. We had to film it in a certain way, and I think Bill did an incredible job with that.
What about the Twilight franchise are you ready to put behind you?
Not wearing clothes. Not wearing clothes, and the climate in which we filmed don't go very well together. I loved Vancouver, but we always had to film when it was rainy and cold. The sun would come out and we would have to stop filming. But I can't even think of complaints or anything because of everything it has given me. It's unreal and I didn't see it coming - none of us did. I am just crazy-thankful for the opportunity [this franchise] has given us.
Who from the Twilight "family" were you surprised that you became very close with?
I can definitely say that we are all very, very close. One person I am very close with, and am happy about, but could be considered unexpected because he's not in the franchise anymore because I killed him, is Edi Gathegi, who played Laurent. He's an incredible guy and we are very close. That might be unexpected because I haven't filmed a movie with him in a couple of years, and the last time I did I took him out of the franchise and bit his head off.
What has been your craziest fan encounter?
That is tough, to choose just one. I don't like using the word "crazy;" I prefer "passionate." Kristen and I had a very interesting Brazil experience that we have talked about many times that was out of control, but amazing. I've had a few girls who have tattooed a picture [of me] or signature on their arm. That blows my mind. Something new happens every single day and it continues to blow my mind. You would think we would get used to it and expect it, but we don't. We wouldn't be here today, promoting this movie, if it weren't for that passion.
What's coming up next for you?
I don't know, to be honest. I've been promoting back-to-back movies, and now I'll have a little break, which I'm excited about. It will give me time to catch up on sleep a little bit and figure out what's next.
What about Gus Van Sant?
What about him?
It was announced this week that you are going to do a movie with him.
He is a very talented director who I have always looked up to, and always wanted to do a film with. It's very premature so I don't have anything to say right now, but I would love to work for him.
Is it true that the movie is based on a New Yorker article?
There is a project like that, floating around somewhere.
Is there any part of Jacob that will stick with you?
Absolutely. After playing the same character for five movies, over so many years, you become really close to him. You start putting yourself into Jacob and Jacob into you. I love Jacob. There are many things that make me look up to him. He is one of the most loyal people; he is one of the most persistent people. He has amazing qualities that I hope I can learn from and apply them to my own life.
Is it important that your next project be different from the role you played in Twilight?
In a way - and we've all said this to each other, because we all deal with it - it would almost be a compliment to be typecast. That's our job, to make the fans believe we are these characters. At the same time, of course, as actors, we want to be able to go off and do other things and challenge ourselves in different roles. In one sense, it's exciting that [Twilight] is coming to an end, but at the same time, it's a bummer, because it has been such a huge part of our lives.
One of your most pivotal scenes is done in wolf form. Were you disappointed that you didn't get to bring your own physicality to that scene? Did you rehearse it at all?
It was kind of weird and awkward, because we were standing in an empty room. They actually filmed us, so we actually did a version of that scene [with the actors]. They filmed us because we said all of the lines and our voices were used in the movie. Sometimes, it my face did something, they would implement that into the wolf. It's very cool, the amount of detail they put into it. In a way, I'm bummed because the wolves got a very cool scene that we didn't, but I'm kind of used to that by now. And they were able to use specific things we did with our faces, our bodies, our voice... everything.
Do you feel like you "own the role" of Jacob enough that you can say to Bill - or whoever - that you don't think Jacob would do something, or would do it differently?
We are so open with each other that I'm sure one of us would have opened up and said something like that, but with Bill, he just made us feel so comfortable to begin with. It could have been a challenge, playing the same character for five movies, and having a different director each time. When a new director comes on board, sometimes it takes a few seconds to adjust. But with Bill, he was so amazing and open. He made us feel comfortable.
There were some instances where I said, "I think Jacob would do this," or "I don't think he would do that." Bill was very open about everything. He would say the same stuff to us. I have respected Bill for a very long time - way before he ever signed on to Twilight - so I was able to completely trust him. All of us were.
What is it about Jacob that he just won't let go of Bella?
I go back and forth on Jacob's persistence. Most of the time I can understand it, because there have been things in my life that I wanted so much, and when you are told no, I still have to go for it. If I wanted something, was told no, and just kind of gave up on it, I wouldn't be sitting here today. If you believe in something, if you love something, you've got to go for it, no matter what. But yeah, there were moments where I thought, "Dude, you've got to get over her. She's married. She's on her honeymoon. It's about time to move on."
Can you talk about the very last scene you ever shot for Twilight?
Yeah. It was tough. I knew filming the last scene would be tough, but it was more emotional for all of us than we expected. It didn't help that my last scene was with Kristen - it was with Rob as well, he comes in at the end - but it was a last dance between Bella and Jacob, towards the end of the wedding. Jacob is saying goodbye to her and he realizes it's over. It's really time for Jacob to move on. It's an emotional scene in which we are, essentially, saying goodbye to each other, and that was the very last scene we filmed together. It didn't help the situation. I remember when we finished, Kristen and I looked at each other, and I don't think we really had anything to say to one another. The emotion from the scene was overwhelming us, then the emotion of the situation on top of that... it was tough, but it was a very special moment. Now when I watch that scene, I have a lot of special memories.