Abduction - Taylor Lautner interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
TAYLOR Lautner talks about some of the challenges of landing his first leading man role in Abduction as well as the pleasure of getting to work alongside such esteemed co-stars as Sigourney Weaver and Jason Isaacs.
He also talks about knocking out a co-star by accident, kissing Lily Collins, getting motorbike advice from Tom Cruise and how completing Twilight will be a ‘bittersweet’ feeling.
Q. It’s been six or seven years since Robert Rodriguez first cast you in a movie. How are you finding making movies now? Are you still learning? And if so what was new on Abduction?
Taylor Lautner: Absolutely, I believe you can never stop growing and learning and I’ve been very fortunate to have been working since I was 10 or 11-years-old. I have learned so much throughout the years working with amazing directors and great actors as well. This was really a huge step for me because it’s very different from anything that I’ve done before but I think the biggest difference here is that the cast we were surrounded by in this movie was unbelievable. We were surrounded by an all-star cast in Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello… I really couldn’t have done it without them.
Q. Tell me about the fight scene between you and Jason…
Taylor Lautner: It was awesome. I mean we were very friendly by that point and he’s hilarious.
Q. Is he hilarious in the middle of a fight scene like that?
Taylor Lautner: Yes actually. He is so funny. I have looked up to him for a while, ever since I saw him as the bad guy in The Patriot. I loved him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s done so many roles, but I did love that this was something kind of different for him and we really get to see his humour in this movie as well as different areas. But during that scene it was just fun because we had gloves on, so we literally were like: “Let’s go for it!” I mean, he was whacking me the whole time. But it was fun. There were no serious injuries… maybe a few bruises the next day.
Q. I have heard about an injury on set, though, as revealed by you on the Letterman Show in the States…
Taylor Lautner: Oh no…
Q. You knocked out a 6ft Russian guy during the train fight?
Taylor Lautner: This is in the train, it’s the brutal fight scene on the train, and it was me and Ilia Volok, the other actor, and we were doing the fight ourselves. So, we were doing the scene and towards the end of the scene I’m supposed to throw an upper cut and, of course, we’re faking it so I’m not really punching him. But the stunt co-ordinator comes up to us both and says: “OK guys, the upper cut is not selling… Taylor, you need to extend your arm more and Ilia you need to stick your chin out more so we can sell it.” So, we were like: “OK, let’s do this…” But the very next take, sure enough I extend more, he sticks the chin out more, and ‘pop’, I connected right in that spot where it just puts you out. And this guy’s huge and so intimidating and he just goes ‘whoop’ [mimics going down] and he was out for like two seconds. It was very scary at first and I felt terrible, especially when he stood up and he had a chunk of skin hanging out of his lip. He was like: “OK, I’m fine, I’m fine, let’s keep going!” And I was like: “Ilia, you need to look at your lip because it’s not good.” He was very nice about it but I felt so bad. I will admit I felt kind of cool about it.
Q. When it comes to fighting do you find generally that you have to reign back on your own martial arts skills because the character is perhaps not as adept as you? Jason Isaacs is confident you could have wiped the floor with him…
Taylor Lautner: [Laughs] He was pretty impressive. There was a few times where I just wanted to go crazy and I wanted to throw flips and stuff. There was one flip that made it in there but there were a few times where I’d throw a few moves where they’d be like: “Taylor, Nathan doesn’t know how to do that, so you can’t do that!” So, there were a few times where I was a little frustrated. But it’s true, I had to take a step back. The biggest thing we wanted to do with this movie was to make it seem as real and grounded as possible. And it helps when you have the real actors doing the stunts and Lily and I were able to do the majority of our stunts in this movie, which was very exciting for us but also makes the movie that much more realistic.
Q. Presumably you have been offered full-on martial arts movies where you get to use your skills? Would you ever do one of those?
Taylor Lautner: You never know. I loved the fact that I was able to use it in this movie but this was a great acting piece for me and that’s what excited me the most about this movie, the journey that the character goes on. Is it great that I got to incorporate my martial arts and do a lot of cool stunts? Absolutely. But that was just the fun part of this movie. It also was very challenging emotionally.
Q. Can you talk about the casting of Lily Collins?
Taylor Lautner: Everybody from the very beginning knew that Lily was the only person for this role. She’s the only girl I read with and that’s all we needed to see.
Q. How much practise did the kissing scene on the train take? And did that chemistry extend off-set as we’ve been led to believe?
Taylor Lautner: Copy that. Um, we were able to just like dive right into that. It’s funny because the other action scenes… two different kinds of action. But the other action scenes involved a lot of preparation and a lot of training but for this we just figured it would be best to just go for it. I mean, there was really no choreography. We were like: “Let’s just see what happens and hopefully it’ll look swell.” The only awkward part about it is that we had 100 to 150 grown men staring at us during all of it. That’s their job, so I totally get it, but that thought is always in the back of your mind and you have to get rid of it and live these characters for that moment. But it was fine. We jumped right into it.
Q. But did the chemistry extend off-set?
Taylor Lautner: We are very good friends.
Q. You’ve mentioned all the great actors in this film and yet yours in the name on top of the poster. Does that bring an extra pressure to it? Does it feel like you’re on the brink of breaking away from the Twilight angle?
Taylor Lautner: This was a very surreal experience for me and definitely a dream come true. I couldn’t have done it alone, I really couldn’t have. I had a lot of help in the cast and the crew and our director. But this experience was amazing and with this project specifically I just went with my heart. I mean, I tried to not over-think what should be next, what I should be doing. The very first time I heard this idea I knew that I wanted it to be my next project and I was very thankful and fortunate that it was able to be.
Q. Is it a nice breath of fresh air to be able to do something away from Twilight?
Taylor Lautner: Yes and no. I mean, that franchise and that character mean so much to me. I mean that coming to an end is a very bittersweet feeling. But yes, absolutely, as an actor I want to be able to challenge myself to a wide variety of roles and this couldn’t be more difficult than Jacob and Twilight and that’s one of the major reasons I was attracted to this. So, yeah it was great to try something new and I had an amazing time with it.
Q. Did you miss your Twilight co-stars when you were on this set?
Taylor Lautner: It was a little different at first. I mean, we’re definitely great friends but as I was filming this I knew that as soon as I was done filming this I was going back to spend seven months filming the last two with them. So, I was going to get enough of them. But this was great to be with new people and be with Lily and everyone we’ve mentioned thus far.
Q. How interesting was it see your co-stars switch on and off between takes or keep the accent up, as in the case of Alfred or Jason?
Taylor Lautner: That was very cool, I always pay attention to the accent thing, especially with Rob [Pattinson]. But the coolest part for me was… I mean trust me it was very cool to be doing scenes with Sigourney Weaver and all of them but the coolest part was seeing them as people on set and how they treated the crew, they’re work ethic, how courteous they were to everyone. We worked with some amazing people on this movie and that was probably the most important thing for me to see.
Q. Did you pick up any Swedish from Michael Nyqvist?
Taylor Lautner: [Laughs] What was funny about him was that on-set we were watching him… I mean, the guy is an incredible actor but we know him personally and he’s hilarious. So, when he’s doing these spooky scenes and he’s supposed to be this big bad guy, we were behind the camera laughing. It was so funny. Now we watch the movie and we’re like: “Whoah, he’s actually kind of freaky!” But on-set we knew him so well that it was just hilarious.
Q. Was it true that you got some advice from Tom Cruise about riding the motorbike in this film?
Taylor Lautner: It was less advice and more of him just being very excited for me. He’s obsessed with motorcycles and action and stunts and all that stuff. So, when I told him about this project he was very excited and said: “Oh, you’re going to be on a motorcycle; you’ve got to do training, you’ve got to know what you’re doing because you’ve actually got to do it yourself…” It was good advice. I mean, hopping on a motorcycle and doing that stunt without training wouldn’t have been a good idea. But he’s a great guy.
Q. People have compared you to the young Tom Cruise. So, he’s someone you know now?
Taylor Lautner: I wouldn’t say we’re best friends but I have ran into him a few times and I guess I can technically say I’ve worked with him once. We did this opening skit for the MTV Movie Awards where he was playing his Les Grossman character from Tropic Thunder and that was very surreal for me because he’s definitely been at the top of my list growing up and still is today. But those are some mighty, mighty shoes to fill. I would give anything to have a tenth of the career that Tom Cruise has had.
Q. You mentioned last year that you were interested in going to university at some point?
Taylor Lautner: Right now it’s very busy and I feel like I’m living my dream right now. So, this is definitely my focus right now. As long as I’m doing this… I mean this is what I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I have to pinch myself because I’m not quite sure if this is real. But yeah, that’s always in the back of my mind. I enrolled in my community college as soon as I finished High School and then just became too busy but that definitely interests me.