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
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.