The Story Behind How Taylor Lautner Was Almost Recast In The Twilight Franchise

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Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels were a wild phenomenon, and the movie franchise starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson only helped the series soar further. Following the original Twilight movie just turning 15, let’s look back on the story behind Taylor Lautner’s iconic role as Jacob Black almost being passed on to another actor for New Moon. Here’s how the actor was able to take back the role and play the werewolf for all five movies. 

Following the end of the franchise, Taylor Lautner left Hollywood for a few years. Recently, the actor has been back in the public eye hosting a wellness podcast called The Squeeze with his wife, who is also now named Taylor Lautner. He also made a surprise appearance in Taylor Swift’s “I Can See You” music video over the summer. Let’s go back in time and talk through the full story behind Lautner’s Twilight casting… and recasting. 

Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart in Twilight, red truck

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

How Taylor Lautner Was Cast In Twilight 

Taylor Lautner got started in Hollywood at the age of 9, appearing in television roles and voiceover opportunities on animated shows like Danny Phantom, Duck Dodgers and What’s New, Scooby Doo? The actor scored his first big movie role in 2005 when he starred in Robert Rodriguez’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D before also finding a role in Cheaper By The Dozen 2, starring Steve Martin

While speaking on The Squeeze earlier this year, Lautner shared that between the ages of 13 and 16, he “couldn’t book a job” and had had come to the conclusion in his mind that if he didn’t get anything by the end of the school year, he was going to “hang it up.” But then he was given the opportunity to screen test for two movies on the same day: Disney’s Race To Witch Mountain starring Dwayne Johnson, and Twilight, the latter of which he was much less excited about booking. Here’s what Lautner shared about what happened: 

A couple weeks later, my agent called me and they were like ‘We’ve got good news and bad news for you.’ And I was like ‘What?’ and they were like ‘You didn’t get The Rock Disney movie’ and I was heartbroken, ‘But, you did get this Twilight thing.’ And I was like ‘Ok..’ and they’re like ‘I’m telling you Taylor, this thing is gonna be big.’ And I was like ‘Ok, I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll believe ya here’… As soon as it was announced that I got the job, I was still in public high school, I couldn’t go to school anymore and I hadn’t even filmed the movie yet. It was just announced that I was going to be playing this role and overnight I’m in class and people are recording me.

Lautner would go on to play the small role of Jacob Black in the first Twilight alongside Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Of course, the real meat of the character takes place after the first Twilight, and when the sequel was greenlit, another director was hired to helm New Moon

Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black running after wedding invitation in Breaking Dawn Part 2

(Image credit: Summit)

That Time Taylor Lautner Was Going To Be Recast For New Moon

The Twilight actors apparently didn’t sign multi-movie contracts because when it came time for New Moon, Taylor Lautner’s role in the franchise went up in the air. While speaking to the Good Guys Podcast in October, the actor shared he had yet to be hired for the sequel. In his words: 

I knew that if the first [Twilight] movie did well, they were going to want to start filming the second movie pretty shortly after, like at the beginning of the new year. And, I’ve read the books, so I know where my character goes. Thankfully, long before the first movie came out, I started my transformation journey, but the studio was unaware of that. So, right after the movie came out, it did very well, they decided we’re greenlighting the second movie. I got a phone call from my agents and my managers saying ‘Hey, tough news but the studio just called us and they just let us know that they thank you for your participation in the first movie, but they are going to be moving on and recasting for the second movie.’

As Lautner shared unprompted, the actor decided to transform his body in preparation for playing out Jacob Black’s werewolf arc even though he had not been confirmed to return, which he would go on to call a “nightmare.” Taylor Lautner said that it was his father who actually sat him down and convinced him to take the initiative. Even so, Lautner got a call that he was going to be recast. Now let’s get into how he turned it around. 

Taylor Lautner as Jacob in Twilight

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

How Taylor Lautner Got His Role Back

Taylor Lautner shared that he “kind of saw” the recasting coming considering the shape he was in Twilight would not be up to par with who Jacob Black turns into. So when his representation got the call about the studio’s decision, they apparently asked if they had seen Taylor recently and agreed to see him about New Moon. Here’s what happened next, per Lautner: 

I took a meeting with them, they were surprised. At that point everything stayed on. At that point, I put on 20-25 pounds of muscle, maybe 20 at that point. They were surprised but they didn’t stop their search for other people. They like kept talking to me as they were doing auditions with 10-year older guys than me. I got it, because there was no way I could have played Jacob in the second movie and on looking like I did in the first movie, but as soon as the amount of work that I had been putting in for the last nine months, at that point I was like ‘Come on guys, what are we doing here?’

Lautner was understandably frustrated with the recasting search after he had put in months of work to bulk up. As the actor continued: 

I had to start the audition process completely over again. I had to meet with the studio, and I had to meet with the director. They had me read again with Kristen [Stewart]. Well actually they wanted me to read with a casting director and I called Kristen up and was like ‘Could you do me a favor? Would you read opposite me for this?’ And, she said ‘Absolutely.’ She was a huge part of [getting the role back]. There definitely was a meeting where they were like ‘Alright, take it off.’ I remember being in a parking lot before that meeting because they said they like needed to see it, and I remember being in the parking lot. I brought some dumbbells and just like pumping up before I walked into the room.

Kristen Stewart helped advocate for Lautner’s return, and ultimately he won the role once again against a host of jacked-up talent, who he said were significantly older than him. 

Taylor Lautner as Jacob in Twilight: Eclipse

(Image credit: Paramount)

What Taylor Lautner Learned From Almost Being Recast In Twilight

When Lautner returned to the Twilight franchise, the actor recalled heading to the set of New Moon “ready to prove” himself after almost being booted from the movie. On the plus side, because Lautner and what sounds like the rest of the main Twilight cast were not signed to five-picture contracts, they had the chance to renegotiate a few times during the franchise’s run. As Lautner said:

I’ll just say this: studios learned from their mistakes from the Twilight franchise. Shortly after the Twilight franchise they learned they need to just sign people to a five-six picture deal right off the bat… And then I think they did like Hunger Games, and a couple of those other ones like Divergent shortly after and they were like ‘Alright, you’re going to sign your life away.’ I’m sure they had lovely renegotiations, but yeah they learned their lesson.

Dollar signs aside, Lautner learned a lot about himself after starring in the Twilight franchise. Aside from experiencing the downsides of fame early in his life, he realized he often felt a sense of “desperation” when it came to his career. In the years following his massive Twilight role, he decided to reframe from putting all his “self worth” into his career to focusing on other elements of his life, and that led to him meeting his wife and getting to the place he is now. 

The 31-year-old is now happily married and has a successful podcast with his wife. While he’s shared interest in playing Twilight’s Jacob again, he’d only do so with a “trim and healthy” body rather than what he put his body through before, and it sounds like it certainly wouldn’t be his first priority. You can check out what the other Twilight cast members are up to now and check out the Twilight movies with an Amazon Prime subscription

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