Even though he’s already a movie star, Taylor Lautner’s ready to apply the same strict discipline that made him a pre-teen karate champion and bulked up him enough to keep his Jacob Black role into becoming a more effective actor.
“I've always told myself that nothing comes without hard work,” says Lautner, who as the star of the action-thriller “Abduction” (opening today) is headlining his first film outside of the uber-popular “Twilight” franchise and hopes to establish his solo viability as box office draw when he’s not playing werewolf Jacob Black. “Martial arts and the lessons that it's taught me, from hard work and self-discipline, all of that stuff, has been really important to me.”
In the film Lautner plays a hard-partying high school student who’s also been rigorously trained by his parents in martial arts to protect himself – but he only discovers why when a school project leads him to stumble across a missing children website featuring a profile of his own young self.
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“This role specifically required so much preparation, physically and emotionally,” Lautner tells PopcornBiz. “Emotionally, that was the most important part for me, to be able to dive into this character's shoes and try as much as possible to relate to this journey that he goes on and also trying to relate to the emotions that he has to deal with.”
Lautner says he’s learning to handle, if uneasily, the notion that if he charts his course carefully he could be an even hotter Hollywood commodity than the franchise that made him famous. Even his “Abduction” director, John Singleton, advised him to carefully scrutinize the career courses of Tom Cruise and Matt Damon.
“It's a little intimidating,” admits Lautner. “I mean, Tom Cruise is probably number one on my list and always has been. I've looked up to him since I was really young. I think the biggest reason that I've looked up to him is just his career choices. He's always continued to challenge himself and do different things, going from 'Risky Business' to 'Top Gun' to 'Jerry Maguire' to 'Born on the 4th of July.' The variety in those roles and genres is absolutely insane, and that's what I admire about him the most. My goal is to be able to challenge myself like he did. If I end up with a tenth of the career that that guy's had, I would be completely happy.”
Among the perks of making the film for Lautner were the opportunities to put his own extreme physicality and martial arts prowess to work by performing as many of his own stunts as he could get Singleton to let him get away with, most of which he threw himself into without fear of injury. “The only time that I ever had that thought cross my mind was when I did the giant slide on the glass in the baseball stadium. I was so excited about that stunt and was so thrilled that they were allowing me to do it. But – and I'm being honest – after about 15 or 20 takes I was like, 'All right. Where's the stunt double?' It was fun for a while, but then you get a few bumps and bruises.”
After consistently losing Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan to Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” series, Lautner says he was pleased “Abduction” also allowed him to flex his muscles as a romantic leading man. “It was a great feeling to actually end up the girl,” he chuckles, recalling shooting “a steamy scene” with co-star Lily Collins. “We went for it, and sometimes those scenes can be awkward – It just depends, but thankfully it was all good,” he says. “Lily is so talented that she just shines on the screen and she shines on set. It was great working with her and I can't wait for everyone to see her in the movie.”
"Abduction" opens everywhere today.