From ‘Twilight’ to ‘Airbender': Is Jackson Rathbone the Next Orlando Bloom?

Orlando Bloom did it a few years ago with “Lord of the Rings” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Samuel L. Jackson sort of had it going on with the “Star Wars” and “xXx” films. And Ian McKellen might have been the king, as he balanced the “LOTR” and “X-Men” movies for years… in his 60s! Now, could Jackson Rathbone be the next actor to pull off the rare simultaneous-double-franchise trick?

“Aw, man I got to do a lot of fight scenes in ‘Airbender’,” the affable “Twilight” star explained to us when we asked about his recently-wrapped upcoming blockbuster based on the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” TV cartoon show. “It was fun for me, because I grew up a little bit in Texas, and did a little Texas football. So, that little contact is good every once in a while; it kind of lets the aggression out.”

Directed by “The Sixth Sense” filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, “Airbender” will bring the story of element-harnessing Avatars to the big screen next July. Rathbone portrays Sokka, a Southern Water tribe Warrior who helps the heroic Aang battle evil. If all goes well, the filmmakers have stated their intent to make it the first part of a trilogy, which would presumably shoot while Rathbone finishes out his work as “Twilight” character Jasper Hale.

Which would be fine with Rathbone, as he told us that playing Sokka allowed him to be much more expressive then he gets to be in “New Moon.” “Jasper is so composed and kind of holding it all back, so getting to play a character where I can just run into people was great! I got to do this fight scene where I get attacked by three different people at the same time; I’m running through a battle trying to find my little sister, worried about where she is, and this guy charges me with a sword! So, I make the split decision to just tackle him, take him straight to the ground, and then someone else comes behind me and tries to slash me in the back – so I pull that guy over me, and he hits his own guy.”

Adding that he also got to “ride on Appa, that big beast flying-bison creature,” Rathbone said that as much as he loves hanging around with emotionally-conflicted Cullens, he also enjoyed being an action star. “It was crazy! I’m attacked by three different people [in that scene], and I have to fend them all off with a boomerang! I’m throwing people over my back, I’m constantly being stabbed at — it was a blast!

What do you think? Does Jackson Rathbone have what it takes to be the next big double-franchise star?