LOS ANGELES As dusk sets on the "Twilight" saga with the final film, actor Taylor Lautner is looking at a new dawn for the next stage in his career.
Lautner, 20, shot to fame after being cast as werewolf Jacob Black in the "Twilight" films, entangled in a torrid love triangle with Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson's vampire Edward Cullen. He became a household name and pin-up for his clean-cut good looks and shirtless scenes.
In "Breaking Dawn - Part 2," out in U.S. theaters on November 16, Lautner's character finds new love, albeit unusual, and indulges his comedic side as the story comes to an end.
Lautner spoke to Reuters about leaving Jacob and his cast mates behind, and why the final film may leave fans in tears.
Q: What's different about Jacob in "Breaking Dawn - Part 2"?
A: "He's always been so stressed and emotional and things aren't going his way and there was a huge weight lifted off his shoulders in this one, huge. It was nice to play that side of Jacob where he could sit back and relax and have a smile on his face and crack a few funny jokes every now and then."
Q: Jacob finds his soul mate in Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee from the moment she is born. Was it challenging to balance his affection for her without coming across creepy?
A: "It was a challenge, and it is so complicated, but really nobody understands it more than Stephenie Meyer who created it. I was picking her brain all day long about it. She basically told me over and over again, 'Taylor, stop trying to overthink it, stop trying to take it different places ... It's a life-long bond between two people, that's it.' In the movie, (Renesmee) is 10 years old, it's much more of a protector relationship right now, and of course the relationship will grow but we don't explore that, but it was important for me to keep it simple."
Q: What are you going to miss most about your character and the franchise?
A: "These characters have never stopped changing throughout the entire franchise, and that's what I love about Jacob. Jacob himself has grown up so much and gone through so many hurdles and it was a fantastic character to play. For me, it'll be tough to say goodbye to spending time with people that I love. We've grown so close over the past few years. Our relationships will go on past this but to not have that excuse to spend day after day together while filming or promoting will be different."
Q: "Twilight" fans are not just interested in your characters, they're also interested in your personal lives. The past summer has seen a lot of attention on Robert and Kristen's relationship. How do you handle that level of scrutiny?
A: "It's unlike anything else because when we do talk about the movies, 90 percent of the time people want to know more about ourselves than the characters and what's going on. I guess that just comes with a fan base like this, it comes with the job and you try and not let it affect you too much, but I have no complaints ... The scrutiny, is it unfortunate? Yeah, but you just got to make your way around it and think about things more."
Q: Do you feel protective of your cast members?
A: "Yes, I definitely do, we're so close by this point, I think that it's hard not to."
Q: What do you hope "Twilight" fans take away from "Breaking Dawn - Part 2"?
A: "I just hope they're happy and they're proud because we really do make these movies for them. They're the reason we are able to make them, their support is unreal and we're so proud of this last one. This last one specifically wraps it up so nicely, it's an amazing movie. During the movie, it'll keep you on the edge of your seat but by the end, I think more than a few of the fans will be in tears."
Q: Post-Twilight, where do you want to take your career to, what roles would you like to explore? I hear you have a cameo in the comedy "Grown Ups 2"?
A: "It was great to do (comedy), just hop in and show a different side, do something fun and work with somebody like Adam (Sandler). But now I'm looking forward to doing something different from that. There are a few projects that I'm very excited about that are extremely challenging and dramatic and would be tough."
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Patricia Reaney)