Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in “Twilight”
Taylor Lautner and “Twilight” fans should know soon whether the 16-year-old actor will get to reprise the role of Jacob Black in the upcoming sequel “New Moon,” set for November release. (Yes, Twilighters, “New Moon,” if it stays on schedule, is just 11 months away. Mark your calendars now, if you haven’t already.)
According to EW.com, Summit Entertainment is expected to announce this week whether Lautner will keep the role he played in the fall blockbuster “Twilight,” despite major changes to the character’s appearance in the second story of Stephenie Meyer’s mega-popular four-book series.
The franchise’s legion fans – and presumably Lautner - have been anxiously awaiting news since Summit confirmed last month that it was still considering its options when it came to casting Jacob Black. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are locked in to reprise their roles in the sequel.
In “New Moon,” the series’ heroine, awkward human teenager Bella Swan (Stewart), is heartbroken and despondent when her boyfriend Edward Cullen (Pattinson) leaves her over concerns for her safety. (After all, romancing a blood-sucking immortal isn’t exactly the best way to extend your life expectancy.) In his absence, Bella’s friendship with her American Indian pal Jacob Black grows, but is then put in jeopardy when Jacob discovers he and some of the other members of his tribe are werewolves.
In Meyer’s story, as Jacob gets in touch with his wolfy nature, his human body grows exponentially from a slight teenager into a burly, nearly 7-foot-tall man who looks much older.
That change really gets to the crux of Summit’s concerns: Lautner, who turns 17 in February, looks like a slim, baby-faced teenager in “Twilight,” which made him perfect for the first film. But the filmmakers are concerned about him pulling off the hulking wolfman look.
”Jacob is a totally different character in New Moon,” Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter of “Twilight” and “New Moon” told EW.com. ”He’s a foot taller and huge – and he’s supposed to look 25. It’s really a question of whether or not the same actor can play the role.”
EW.com reports that Rosenberg is quick to add that ”everyone would love to keep him. We all think he’s the loveliest person ever.”
Lautner - who did look just a bit bigger at the film’s fall press day than he did in his “Twilight” scenes, especially without the long wig – has been making his case to keep the role.
Not only has he met with “New Moon” director Chris Weitz (who is taking over for “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke), he has gained 19 pounds since “Twilight.” According to EW.com, Lautner promise to pack on 10 more pounds before shooting starts on the sequel in March.
Lautner told MTV News in a red-carpet interview that it is part of his job as an actor to pull off his character’s transformation: ”My job for ‘Twilight’ was to bring ‘Twilight’ Jacob to life – the friendly, happy-go-lucky little Jacob. My job for ‘New Moon’ is completely different. I’ve been looking forward to that. I’ve been getting ready for it, and I can assure them I will follow through with that.”
While EW.com reports that “Team Jacob” fans are sharply divided over whether Lautner should reprise the role, most of the comments here on BAM’s Blog indicate that fans want to see Lautner back as Jacob, even if filmmakers need to use special effects to help the actor look more the part.
And let’s be honest, even if the filmmakers go with another older, bulkier actor – Michael Copon (“The Scorpion King 2″) and Steven Strait (“10,000 B.C.”) are the ones who have been most discussed as possible replacements – they’re not going to find one that’s 7-feet-tall. So, some FX or concessions will have to be made, which is always the case when it comes to adapting a book – even a passionately loved one – to the big screen.
Speaking of this year’s big movies, check back Friday when my colleages George Lang, Matt Price and I list our 16 most anticipated movies of 2009.