Taylor Lautner arrives at the Nov. 18 premiere of “Twilight” in Los Angeles. (Associated Press photo)
Taylor Lautner will be back.
Lautner and fans of Stephenie Meyer’s mega-popular “Twilight” saga – especially those who have aligned themselves with “Team Jacob” – finally have an answer to weeks of speculation over who would play Jacob Black in the sequel “New Moon.”
“New Moon” director Chris Weitz today posted a message on Meyer’s Web site that Lautner will reprise the role of Jacob in the sequel, due out in theaters Nov. 20. Lautner played the part of heroine Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) BFF in in the film version “Twilight”; the big-screen adaptation of the first book in Meyer’s four-book series was a huge hit in late ’08.
“I’m very happy to announce that Taylor Lautner will be playing Jacob Black in New Moon and that he’s doing so with the enthusiastic support of Summit Entertainment, the producers, and Stephenie Meyer,” Weitz writes on www.stepheniemeyer.com.
“The characters in Stephenie’s books go through extraordinary changes of circumstance and also appearance; so it is not surprising that there has been speculation about whether the same actor would portray a character who changes in so many surprising ways throughout the series. But it was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob, and that the books would be best served by the actor who is emotionally right for the part. I think that fans of Twilight the book and the movie will be surprised by the Jacob Black that Taylor will bring to the screen in New Moon; and I’m looking forward to working with him and the rest of the cast in realizing the film.”
Meyer adds that she was very involved in and pleased by the decision: “I’m truly thrilled that Taylor was the one who proved to the director, to Summit, and to me that he is the best possible Jacob we could have.” (You can read more of Meyer’s thoughts on the topic on her site.)
The franchise’s legion fans – and presumably Lautner – have been anxiously awaiting this news since Summit confirmed last month that it was still considering its options when it came to casting Jacob Black. Stewart and Robert Pattinson were already locked in to reprise their roles in the sequel.
In “New Moon,” 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.
Those physical change was 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 were 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 was 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 – reportedly has gained 19 pounds since “Twilight.” According to EW.com, Lautner promised Weitz he would 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.”
I’ve been tracking the Lautner situation here at BAM’s Blog for the past few weeks, and most of the “Twilight” fans who have commented expressed their desire to keep Lautner as Jacob. What do you think now, Twilighters? Are you pleased?