Long before 17-year-old teen idol Taylor Lautner dreamed of hosting “Saturday Night Live” on December 12th, or starring in Twilight movies, he was interviewed by examiner Jack Dennis in Austin, Texas.
The setting of this interview was outside the Bob Bullock Museum, where cast and 3-D movie goers were attending a carnival party for the premiere of his movie “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.”
At the time Dennis did not realize the significance of the interview and did not seek to publish it when the movie was a moderate hit. This never before published interview and photos of June 2005 is an exclusive to examiner.com.
Jack Dennis (JD): So what do you think of being at a carnival for a premiere?
Taylor Lautner (TL): Oh, it’s really fun. Everyone is having a good time and it’s so nice here. We are excited to be here meeting everyone. This was a good idea. It’s fun signing autographs and it’s nice to see the others. It is a fun experience.
JD: So who is asking for autographs more, the boys or the girls?
TL: (laughs) Mainly, uh, the boys. But, you know, I sign for the girls too. (Grins and laughs again). But it is kind of weird. I’m not use to it. It’s hard to believe they really want my autograph or picture, but it’s fun.
JD: How is it working with Robert Rodriguez (director)?
TL: It’s very fun. He likes to play video games and he plays with us a lot. He is such a good director because he worked and helped us a lot. The green screen and the 3-D stuff can be hard work and challenging. You have to twist your body and shape it in different shapes. So he would help us a lot with things like that. You have to have a good imagination. But he is good about painting a picture in our head. You know, like, do this over here, do that over there. Being on 3-D sometimes he would show us how to move differently like stick your hand out toward the front of the camera so that it sticks out towards the audience. It was very excited working for him. He is the best.
Jack Dennis Jr & Taylor Lautner, 2005 at Austin premiere of Sharkboy
JD: What would you say you learned most from him?
TL: (laughs) Well besides the 3-D stuff, I learned to be humble. Look at him. He’s wearing a cowboy hat, bright blue cowboy shirt and jeans with holes in them. He likes this big star director, but he is down to earth and a lot of fun. We all loved him.
JD: I am about to go in and see the movie, but what can you tell me about your character before I go in there?
TL: Well he’s this superhero. And he is made up in the dreams of a boy name Max, played by Cayden (Boyd). He dreams up Shark Boy and Lava Girl. I am this very self-confident superhero, but sometimes I, or my character Shark Boy, gets way too confident and that gets everything into trouble. And Shark Boy is sort of jealous of Max and goes into these shark frenzies, and stuff and bites bars and can rip stuff up. It was a lot of fun.”
JD: How did you get the role of Shark Boy? TL: Well I audition for a lot of things and always hear no, no, no so many times. But after I auditioned for this, I got a call-back to meet with Robert (Rodriguez) and his son, Racer (8 years-old at the time). You see, it was Racer’s idea that started the whole idea for the movie. I Robert held up some pictures of the kids who auditioned and had call-backs so he asked Racer which one he liked. They said they pointed to me and Robert told Racer that is what he was thinking too. When we found out I had the party the whole family just freaked. It was hard to sleep for a while. (Laughs)
JD: Do you have a favorite memory or favorite part in this movie? TL: Wow. That is hard. There are so many. Well, I do extreme martial arts so I got to do a bunch of acrobatics, flips and stuff for the camera. I got to choreograph my own stunts and really enjoyed the flips. Had to climb up this big ice pillar and get the crystal heart, and we get to slide down in harnesses. But I also liked working on the wires were we jumped off cliffs or fell off of high spots and things. We would hang upside like bats and it was just a lot of fun. The hardest stunt was probably running to a volcano because I’m up there on wires and running on this treadmill going like 99 miles per hour. It wore me out and was very tiring because I had to do it for so long. Fun, but tiring, you know. But I am in good shape because, although I have not really had the time anymore for extreme martial art competitions, I still train at my house.
JD: Where is your house, here in Austin? TL: Oh, no. In LA.
JD: So you go back to LA, after this? TL: Actually we are leaving straight for Canada after this. I am going to be in “Cheaper by the Dozen 2.”
JD: Oh really? What is your character in that?
TL: Well, I will be one of a family of seven brothers and sisters, maybe I am eight. But anyway, I play the son of Eugene Levy and it’s going to be fun and funny. My family is going to have competition with Steve Martin’s family in the movie. We are going to ride canoes and a bunch of fun stuff on a cabin and at a lake. What a riot.”
TL: Well I went to Jamestown Elementary in Michigan and when I was about six, I started taking lessons. About a year later I went to a national karate tournament in Kentucky, in Louisville. I met Mike Chat who helped me with my flips and extreme martial arts. It was love from the beginning. I went to Mike’s (Chat) camp and before it was over I was doing aerial cartwheels with no hands. I just fell in love with it and worked, trained with him for a while and he helped me get my black belt and I won world championships. He sort of talked us in to trying out acting. So we would do auditions but decided we needed to move out to LA. We moved there a couple of years ago, this August, I think.
JD: Do you remember your first job out there? TL: Oh yeah. It was the Rugrats…a commercial for Rugrats, but I was incredibly excited. Like cloud 9, or cloud 10 (laughs).
JD: So how do you handle all this fame? TL: (laughs). Well, I just try to keep things real. My parents are pretty good about keeping me humble. They brought me up good. Robert is a good role model for showing me how to deal with it by being humble. I just take it one day at a time. Look at this. I am having lots of fun with all these kids here. We are all the same. I just happen to be in a movie. This is fun.