3/02/2009

How Will Taylor Lautner Become Jacob Black in New Moon?


With casting still underway on New Moon, the second film adaptation in the Stephenie Meyer Twilight Saga, one of the major characters of the story, Jacob Black, played by young actor Taylor Lautner in the first film, returns in expanded capacity for the second Twilight movie. In New Moon the role of Jacob Black becomes much more important as Lautner’s character evolves not only in physical form but emotionally as well. Although Taylor Lautner and Jacob factored into Twilight in the midst of the relationship between the Edward and Bella characters of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Lautner will need to dig much deeper to become Jacob Black for New Moon.

As much as New Moon focuses on the loss of Edward and the effect that it has on Kristen Stewart’s Bella, Jacob’s importance not only with his transformation but also his developing relationship with Bella, comes to the forefront of the story. One of the biggest challenges that the New Moon casting team faced was whether or not to continue with Taylor Lautner and have him to reprise his role as the much beloved Jacob. Fans of the Twilight series were adamant that Lautner continue to portray Jacob although the physical challenges of the second cinematic adaptation would be hard to overcome. After careful consideration, Stephanie Meyer, author of the series, and Chris Weitz, director of New Moon, confirmed with Summit Entertainment that Taylor Lautner would indeed return to play Jacob Black.

The real challenge, however, now lies in transforming the boy into the man. In the New Moon novel, Jacob Black is struggling with the physical changes in addition to weighty, burdensome internal conflict about what he is becoming. Loyalty and trust are conflicts that Jacob has to endure not only within himself but also with his family and friends. As a teenage boy, Lautner will have to find the balance between adolescence and leadership with Black. While Jacob is extremely protective of Bella, and not for purely platonic reasons, Black also shares a similar conflict with Edward Cullen. Both boys love Bella and vow to protect her no matter the circumstances. Jacob knows that Bella’s heart will never belong to him, but his desire to be with her is only paralleled by Bella’s need for his friendship and presence to fill the void that Edward has left. Jacob goes from fun-loving friend to a protective quasi-boyfriend.

While the emotional role of Jacob depends on the interpretation of Taylor Lautner, the physical part of his role remains as the much larger question mark. It will have to be a joint effort between the production staff and Lautner in order for the physical changes that Jacob endures in the novel to transform to the screen. There are constant references to the ever-increasing size and strength of Jacob Black in New Moon, which will be difficult to film unless it’s done sequentially, which isn’t the normal route for filmmakers to take to safeguard the third act of a film first.

Aside from the human change of Jacob in New Moon, the werewolf transformation of Black also needs to be addressed. The Twilight film was criticized by some for its lack of innovative special effects and New Moon relies heavily on the idea of split-second changes and movement, which will require a great deal of movie magic. How will Weitz and crew go about shooting the mid-air transformation by Jacob? With such a tight shooting schedule - March 23 to May 21 in Vancouver - there looks to be very little room for error for both the production and Taylor Lautner in terms of fully realizing Jacob Black. Hopefully, since I’m actually based out of Vancouver, I’ll get to see some on-set activity.

Until New Moon is released in theatres in November, fans of the Stephenie Meyer series will continue to speculate exactly how Taylor Lautner will embody the ever growing Jacob Black. While the sheer physical strain will no doubt be putting a lot of pressure on Lautner, what he brings to the movie is his previous connection to Jacob. For many fans, the fact that the production team gave Taylor the chance to bring his Jacob to life in New Moon was a welcome relief, and it is still early on and with filming not even set to start for another few weeks.

Lautner himself has stated that he has faced the physical challenges of Jacob Black head-on. However, with so much pressure on staying true to the novel’s depiction of Jacob, there are still many who speculate whether Taylor Lautner will be able to fully encompass the role even if it is purely from a physical standpoint. For now we can only wait to see what progresses with Jacob Black and how New moon will be created. As for the fans, they can only hope that Taylor Lautner can bring Jacob to life the way they imagined from the Stephenie Meyer New Moon novel. Let’s hope everyone can control themselves long enough until November 20 when New Moon bows in theaters and we can see the final result of the second manifestation of Jacob Black.

BY: Nadya Vlassoff

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