At 19, Taylor Lautner has the world at his feet, which when we meet are in designer black boots. “I’m living my dream,” he says happily. And he’s not just referring to the star treatment. It’s the day after the Sydney premiere of Abduction and we’re in a swank Sydney hotel. He looks the epitome of a teen sex symbol with swags of accolades to endorse his status.
Last year he was named Hollywood’s highest paid teen actor and made top rankings in various magazine polls including Men's Health’s Best Summer Bodies, E's Hottest Men, People’s Most Amazing Bodies and Glamour’s Sexiest Men. The rippling abs are the result of work on his physique for his role of Jacob Black a few years ago in the highly popular Twilight franchise.
"no fab abs on display today"
But there are no fab abs on display today. Wearing a button-up grey V neck T shirt (unbuttoned), black jeans and the boots, Lautner looks stylishly casual. “I like to dress comfortably when appropriate, but yes, with style. I also get suited up when required, like last night for the premiere.”
Lautner had been surprised by the huge crowd straining to catch a glimpse of him on the red carpet, but is quick to explain that fame has not impinged on his family life. “Everything has remained unchanged in that regard,” he says. “I live two completely different lives; one in this world (he gestures around him) and one that has existed since my childhood in Michigan.” He seems sincere when he adds: “I owe my family quite a bit.” (His parents moved to LA to help him pursue acting, having made his mark as a karate champion.)
He was keen on the role of Nathan in Abduction even before the script had been written. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to use my karate training, but what was even better were things I hadn’t done before; I had never boxed and I had to do some motor cycle training, wrestling … a lot of fun.
"It’s perfect; you’ve got the action and the cute looking girl.."
“It’s perfect; you’ve got the action and the cute looking girl so you’ve got the romance, too. Definitely a dream.”
Speaking of cute girls … The tabloids were quick to reveal his brief relationship with his Abduction co-star, Lily Collins, and before that with country pop-singer Taylor Swift. He was also rumoured to have had a fling with actress/singer Selena Gomez.
Of his taste in girls, Lautner says “I like girls who are just really themselves…” and is discreet about his current dating scene. “I’m just having fun…”
Likewise on set. The role of Nathan in Abduction is reminiscent of a Jason Bourne yarn, in that Nathan’s identity is a secret even to himself, and has to go on the run from a deadly enemy – and the CIA – before discovering the unexpected truth. Bourne is the sort of character he’d always wanted to play. Another piece of the Lautner dream …
"surrounded by amazing actors"
“I was surrounded by amazing actors: Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello,” he says (the latter two play his parents). “I learnt a lot just observing them … professional and hard working. And especially how courteous they are – yes, they are all great actors, but even more importantly, they are great people.”
Conversely, with over 10 million Facebook fans, Lautner is conscious of his own position as a role model. “It’s definitely a responsibility. I try as much as I can to be myself and hope people respect that. I am enormously thankful to my fans… I wouldn’t be here (glancing around the room) if it weren’t for them.”
Time off these days is rare. “I am either working on a film or promoting it,” he says, “so I don’t get much time for hobbies.” He likes listening to music though, “I am everywhere with my taste … anything from rock to country.”
He loves movies, too: his favourites are Braveheart and Gladiator. “I’m also a Denzel Washington fan: I loved Man on Fire …”
His regular routine depends on his work schedule; “When I’m filming I get up early and film all day (12 to 16 hours) and go to bed and start again next morning. I love the travel and I can thank the fans.”
As for his health routine, he says “thankfully I’m a big meat lover. I love steak, which is great because that is what I have to eat not just what I like to eat.”
"I’m living my dream"
Deep down, Lautner is a dedicated filmmaker itching to go. “I had always dreamed of being in a position to do this and now I’ve done it… I have set up my own production company to help make Abduction. We’ll be looking for new projects which may or may not include me in acting roles. That is what I mean by I’m living my dream.”
[First published in the Sun Herald]
Published September 22, 2011