Movie Mom

Check out Entertainment Weekly’s gallery of shots from the set of “New Moon.” They say that even though Edward does not play much of a role in the book, fans have been assured that the popular Robert Pattinson will play a significant role in the film.
But this film is where we — and Bella — really get to know Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner, who put on 25 pounds of muscle for the role. I interviewed Taylor four years ago when he appeared in The Adventures of SharkBoy and LavaGirl in 3-D, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez (the “Spy Kids” series). At that time Lautner had already won three junior world karate championships. You can see in the interview the qualities that made it possible for him to persuade the producers that he could convince an audience that he had grown up as quickly as Jacob does in the book.

Tell me about Shark-Boy – what can he do and what challenges does he face?
He’s very self-confident and that gets him into trouble and into battles. He thinks he’s an 18-footer. He’s very athletic, does stunts, and can shoot water out of his hands.
Who are the bad guys?
Lava-girl and I have to battle Mr. Electric and his army. He’s trying to destroy the planet Drool. He has a sidekick named Minus and an army of plugs like you stick into a wall.
What surprised you about making the movie?
90 percent of it was on a green screen so we had to have a great imagination. Robert Rodriguez would tell us about our surroundings and paint a picture in our head, Robert was fun and played video games on breaks; I don’t think most films are like that.
When you are working in front of the green screen, how do you imagine what is going to be filled in with the special effects?
At first it was a little weird, but all three kids have a great imagination, and Robert went over the whole script and told us what everything would look like. He gave us a rough drawing and showed us where we could walk and where we could stand, and where there would be an ice bridge. It was very detailed. I think we got the hang of up about two weeks in. They have a little sign with an x to show you where to look.
How many takes did you do before you got it all right?
Some we only had to do 2-3 times, some 25 times. One scene on banana split boat, we had to do like 25 times, Lava Girl had a really long line that was a tongue-twister. When you have to do it over, you have to cool down and get your imagination back on.
What will kids enjoy most about the movie?
The action and fighting scenes and 3-D effects.
How did you get the part?
I met with the casting director first, then met with Robert and his son, who is the one who came up with the idea for the film. I did three or four scenes and they asked me to pose like a superhero. Then talked to a bunch of other kids and then they told me I was going to be Shark-boy.
What was the most fun?
Being with Robert and the other kids, and when we would get messy in scenes. In one scene we land in milk and cookies and get covered with all kinds of mess. I also liked playing football at lunchtime.
What was the hardest?
The greenscreen. Also, going to school on breaks in filming. We would have class for 20 minutes, then go to the set, change back into character for15 minutes, then have to get back into studying civil war stuff in school again.
What was the most important thing you learned from the grown-ups?
He was very helpful. He’s not a “star director.” He just walks around in his cowboy hat and comfortable clothes, like a normal person. He’s a real role model. And he does everything, not just writing and directing. He shoots, edits, and creates the music.
And George Lopez (Mr. Electric) taught us how to play paper war fights!
What do you want to do next?
More feature films. I’d like to do a drama instead of fantasy next time. My favorite movie is “The Last Samurai” and I also like “Spider-Man.”
Who are the best kick-boxers in movies?
Jackie Chan and I like Jean Claude van Damme. He doesn’t do flips and crazy stunts, but really acts when he’s fighting, and makes it seem like he’s fighting for real.
What are the most important qualities it takes to be good at karate?
Focus and determination.
What are the most important qualities it takes to be a good actor?
Same things – focus and determination. So much stuff ties into acting. It’s about performance, you’ve got to confront yourself and be confident when you’re acting or doing karate. If you’re all shy and scared and don’t make eye contact, you won’t get the job.
What do you learn from karate that helps you in other parts of your life?
Self-discipline and focus. I did a lot of sports when I was young, like wrestling and football, then tried karate and liked it and started competing nationally.
What books and music do you like?
I’m not much of a reader, but I like the Hardy Boys. And I like Outkast and the Black Eyed Peas.
Do you think there will be a sequel?
That’s in Robert’s hands and Miramax’s hands, but if it was up to me, I’d do it!

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