SAN DIEGO - Taylor Lautner is in a giddy mood and you can't blame him. The 19-year-old teen heartthrob has finished yet another packed panel in Comic-Con's Hall H for the "Twilight" franchise. This time, he was promoting the second to last installment in the series, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1." Having to be "on" in front of 6,000 fans - not to mention the hundreds of thousands following the event on twitter, facebook or live blogs - wouldn't be easy for anyone. Especially when your every comment will be dissected by fans and non-fans alike for weeks. So, when I met Lautner at nearby PetCo Park to discuss his other movie this year, "Abduction," he was almost bouncing out of the stadium with relief that it had all gone so well.
"Abduction" is Lautner's first real movie role since "Twilight" made him a star almost three years ago. Sure, he had a cameo role in the ensemble rom-com "Valentine's Day," but it's "Abduction" that has only his name above the title. Lautner and his advisers (which include his father who is a producer on the film) took their time deciding what the right vehicle would be for Lautner to show his wares outside of Stephenie Meyer's vampire and werewolf universe. And waiting was probably a smart move. At 19, Lautner can try to escape many of the cliche'd teen roles and start to segue into more adult characters. If he'd jumped into the first thing thrown his way after "Twilight" he might have had 2-3 years of tween comedies and lame romances on his resume (ask Zac Efron how easy it is to escape that label).
Lautner revealed during our conversation that the idea for "Abudction" gestated with a general producer meeting. It was the last idea pitched to Lautner and wasn't even in script form yet, but the young actor immediately sparked to the idea. Two years later - a very fast time frame in Hollywood - the picture is heading to theaters.
The thriller, which also stars Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, Lily Collins (a future "Snow White"), Alfred Molina and Jason Isaacs, finds Lautner playing Nathan Price, a young man who's always thought something about his life just seemed "wrong." When he finds his photo on a missing person's website, he quickly realizes his parents are not his own. At the same time, he finds himself being chased after by federal agents and assassins all hoping to track down his biological father through him. How Nathan solves the mystery of his circumstances and turns the tables on his attackers is the main crux of the picture.
It's that "journey" that appealed to Lautner the mos, but he didn't mind the fact he actually got to do some real stunts in the picture. Lautner had joked during the "Breaking Dawn" panel about how his cuddly, CG wolf has really done most of his action on screen. However, Lautner also adds, "The great thing about 'Abduction' is that it is an action movie, but the story, the romance, it's really a love story. There are also twists and turns and you're trying to figure things out."
You can watch the entire interview with Lautner and find out why we chatted in a baseball stadium as well as his possible future in comedy in the video embedded in this post.
"Abduction" opens nationwide on Sept. 23.
To watch Lautner discuss "Breaking Dawn" at the Comic-Con press conference, click here.
For year-round entertainment commentary follow Gregory Ellwood on twitter @HitFixGregory.