According to sources around Hollywood, things may start looking very hairy for Taylor Lautner. The actor-not to mention legions of Twilight fans-has been desperate to learn whether Summit Entertainment will cast him once more as Jacob Black in the Twilight sequel New Moon.
This week, Summit is expected to announce its decision for the next film based on Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful series of vampire romance novels. Kristen Stewart, 18, is set to return as Bella Swan, the beautiful human who falls for a softhearted bloodsucker. And Robert Pattinson, 22, has a lock on his job too; his turn as Edward Cullen, the hunky, soulful vampire, has made him an overnight superstar with young female moviegoers around the planet. But Lautner, 16, has a more uncertain future. That's because the character he was so perfectly cast to play in the first Twilight film-a slim, baby-faced teenager-will be greatly expanded in the sequel. And by greatly expanded, we mean into a hulking, snarling, seven-foot Lycan. ''Jacob is a totally different character in New Moon,'' screenwriter of both Twilight films, Melissa Rosenberg, tells this week's Entertainment Weekly. ''He's a foot taller and huge-and he's supposed to look 25. It's really a question of whether or not the same actor can play the role.'' Rosenberg is quick to add, however, that ''everyone would love to keep him. We all think he's the loveliest person ever.''
Lautner's certainly been doing everything in his mortal power to hang on to the part. Since Twilight, he's gained 19 pounds and is promising to pack on 10 more before shooting starts on New Moon this March.
UPDATE: (7:05 PM PST) Summit Entertainment has just issued the following press release announcing that Taylor Lautner will indeed reprise his role as Jacob Black in New Moon. Here's the official press release below.
"I'm very happy that Taylor will be playing Jacob Black in New Moon and that he's doing so with the enthusiastic support of Summit, the producers and Stephenie Meyer," said Weitz. "The characters in Stephenie's books go through extraordinary changes of circumstance and also appearance; so it is not surprising that there has been speculation about whether the same actor would portray a character who changes in so many surprising ways throughout the series. But it was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob, and that the books would be best served by the actor who is emotionally right for the part."
"My experience on Twilight was wonderful and I am looking forward to continuing on with the team for New Moon," said Lautner. "I have been working hard preparing for the physicality that this role will require and can't wait to get started with the filming of New Moon."
In New Moon, which will be released domestically November 20, 2009, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is devastated by the abrupt departure of her vampire love, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) but her spirit is rekindled by her growing friendship with the irresistible Jacob Black. Suddenly she finds herself drawn into the world of the werewolves, ancestral enemies of the vampires, and finds her loyalties tested. Production on New Moon is scheduled to begin in the coming months and the studio is planning to release the film on November 20, 2009.
The action-packed, modern day vampire love story and blockbuster success of the first film in the series entitled Twilight was released in theatres on November 21st grossing $69.6 million domestically during its first weekend. To date the film has grossed over $177 million domestically.