Leader of the pack

Grow­ing up as a karate kid gave this ab- tas­tic ac­tor the phys­i­cal and men­tal strength to suc­ceed in Hol­ly­wood, writes James Wigney

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

LIKE many other as­pir­ing ac­tors, Tay­lor Laut­ner ad­mits he got a hard time for tread­ing the boards at school.

But un­like many of those bul­lied for pur­su­ing their dreams, the Twi­light star prob­a­bly could have snapped most of his tor­men­tors in two.

Laut­ner ( pic­tured) trained in ex­treme mar­tial arts from the age of six, earn­ing his black belt in karate at eight and win­ning ju­nior world ti­tles.

Thank­fully, for all con­cerned, it never came to the point where he had to do any dam­age with his hard-earned skills.

‘‘ I prob­a­bly could have, but thank­fully the teas­ing didn’t get to that ex­treme,’’ he says with a laugh. ‘‘ Be­ing the only teenage ac­tor at high school was def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent to most kids.’’

He did, how­ever, find the dis­ci­pline gained from train­ing trans­ferred to act­ing and con­tin­ues to hold him in good stead to this day.

‘‘ What I loved about it is that it teaches a lot of great life lessons,’’ Laut­ner says of mar­tial arts. ‘‘ I think the big­gest thing I took from it is that noth­ing re­ally comes with­out hard work.

‘‘ If you want to be the best and want to get there, you are go­ing to have to work hard for it. The hard work tran­scends to every­thing and that’s the big­gest thing I have taken to this in­dus­try.’’

It also pro­vided him with his break­out movie role.

Af­ter his mar­tial arts guru sug­gested he take up act­ing, Laut­ner and his fam­ily shut­tled be­tween their home in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, and Los An­ge­les for au­di­tions, even­tu­ally mov­ing to LA per­ma­nently in 2002.

The young Laut­ner scored small tele­vi­sion roles be­fore land­ing the snag­gle­toothed, round­house-kick­ing lead in Robert Ro­driguez’s Shark Boy and Lava Girl, which put him firmly on the map.

He fol­lowed up with a role as Eu­gene Levy’s son in the crit­i­cally-panned Cheaper

By the Dozen 2 be­fore be­ing cast in the small but cru­cial part of Ja­cob Black in box-of­fice be­he­moth Twi­light.

Ja­cob played a larger part in the sec­ond film in the fran­chise, New Moon, which turned Laut­ner into a bona fide su­per­star.

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