LOS ANGELES (AP) - Taylor Lautner will be back to morph into the monstrous Jacob Black in the "Twilight" sequel "New Moon."

There had been talk that a bigger, buffer, more menacing actor might play the role when the second of Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful vampire novels hits movie screens come Nov. 20. Lautner, by comparison, appears lean and sweet-faced in part one. But distributor Summit Entertainment and director Chris Weitz confirmed Wednesday that Lautner would be returning.

Stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will also be returning as the saga's doomed young lovers, high schooler Bella Swan and brooding vampire Edward Cullen.

Catherine Hardwicke's "Twilight" opened at No. 1 with a whopping $69.6 million at the box office in November, the biggest opening ever for a female director. It has since grossed about $177 million domestically.

Update:  Director Chriz Weitz released the following statement on Lautner's return to the franchise.

"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.

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.

very best

Chris Weitz"