BEVERLY HILLS, California — By now, it's the stuff of legend among Twilighters. And for [movieperson id="373803"]Taylor Lautner[/movieperson], it makes this weekend's [movie id="414921"]"New Moon"[/movie] opening all the more thrilling.
After last year's massive [movie id="369195"]"Twilight"[/movie] opening weekend, it seemed like common knowledge among the fanbase that [article id="1587744"]16-year-old Lautner[/article] would be unable to return as the transformed, muscular Jacob Black of the sequel. Names like [article id="1601332"]Michael Copon[/article] were bandied about, and it wasn't until we caught up with an [article id="1601555"]impressively buff Lautner[/article] a few months later that it seemed like he could put on enough muscles to get the gig back. [url id="http://www.mtv.com/videos/movies/456984/why-did-taylor-almost-get-fired.jhtml#id=1626246"]The rest[/url], as they say, is history.
Finally getting a chance to take a deep breath and look back on the events of the last 12 months, Lautner told us recently that he couldn't be happier with how it all worked out.
"Honestly, if I would have let myself get to that darkest moment, it wouldn't have been good," Taylor said of the days when it looked like the franchise might be moving on without him. "So I tried to focus on what I could control the whole time and not let whatever was going on outside get to me. And that's what I did.
"During that whole time, there was no director attached, so nobody could make that kind of decision or announcement without the director," he remembered of last winter, when he seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth and apparently spent all his time pumping iron. "As soon as Chris Weitz became attached, I had all my work done that I had been doing over the past nine, 10 months; it was all good to go.
"It's not like I went in there trying to pitch myself," Lautner said of the now-famous meeting with the "New Moon" director, when he convinced Weitz that he could pull off a bigger, stronger Jacob Black. "It really got blown into something in the media, but that's what I try to stay away from. Chris was always extremely supportive, and I was glad to have him behind me."
Once he had landed his meatiest starring role yet, all that was left was for Lautner to stand before the cameras and live out his dream. And he's thrilled about the buzz that his acting has received from fans who have seen advance screenings of "New Moon."
"My main goal going into this film was to bring alive both sides of Jacob; I wanted to capture and continue what I started in 'Twilight,' " he explained of the tender boy within and the fierce beast unleashed. "Jacob is best friends with Bella, and then as soon as I transform, I just completely snap and become a different person. So I really hope that came across. I guess I'll just have to wait and see and hear from the fans when it comes out."
Check out everything we've got on "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."
For young Hollywood news, fashion and "Twilight" updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.