Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in Twilight

Taylor Lautner’s ‘Twilight’ Story Proves How Unnecessary It Is for Actors To Look Like Their Book Counterparts

Taylor Lautner has revealed he was nearly recast in the Twilight film series because the studio reportedly wanted him to look like a 25-year-old man, in line with his character’s description in the books. The story of how the film almost lost one of its biggest stars illustrates the issues with assuming actors need to look like their book counterparts.

Recommended Videos

With more and more books boasting film adaptations, conversations have been stirred up regarding how seriously these films or TV shows should take character descriptions from the source material. On several occasions, these conversations have turned nasty, especially whenever a film opts to cast a BIPOC actor as a character the book described as white, or was assumed to be white by default.

When Rachel Zegler was cast as Snow White in Disney’s live-action remake, she quickly became a victim of horrific racist backlash as conservatives insisted that whoever played the princess had to have “skin as white as snow,” as the original story described. Leah Jeffries faced similar attacks when she was cast as Annabeth Chase in Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, even though it was the original book’s author, Rick Riordan, who specifically chose her for the role.

Oftentimes, complaints come from those who have never even read the source material and simply want to use casting decisions as an excuse to be racist. However, for those claiming it’s faithfulness to the source that they care about, Lautner’s story shows that fixations on book descriptions could actually damage a film franchise.

Taylor Lautner was forced to fight for his Twilight role

Taylor Lautner as Jacob and Robert Pattinson as Edward in Twilight
(Summit Entertainment)

Today, Lautner’s name is practically synonymous with the Twilight franchise. His role as Jacob Black is still his most well-known role to date, and the franchise saw him attain the status of a teen idol.

However, in a recent appearance on Alex Cooper’s podcast Call Her Daddy, Lautner revealed he almost wasn’t Jacob for the whole series. After the first movie, the studio was going to recast him for a rather silly reason—it wanted him to look like a muscular 25-year-old man. This is because, in the books, when one transforms into a werewolf for the first time, they grow rapidly before halting the aging process altogether. Hence, when Jacob was 16, he had the body of a tall, muscular 25-year-old man.

It’s an interesting piece of lore from author Stephenie Meyer, but it doesn’t really impact the story. So, one might have assumed that the films would just dismiss this fact. After all, Twilight was already a box-office success that was resonating with younger viewers. It would’ve been a considerable risk to replace the young heartthrob with a 25-year-old man for the next film. Also, wouldn’t it have been just a little weird to have a 25-year-old man in a love triangle with two ostensible teenagers?

Still, the studio was apparently insistent that Jacob had to look like a 25-year-old. To save his role, Lautner had to completely change his physique and bulk up significantly to reflect Jacob’s transformation.

Even after doing all this work, the studio forced him to re-audition before allowing him to stay in the franchise. Meanwhile, the franchise’s and fan’s focus on his physique and transformation led to him struggling with his body image in recent years. Now, looking at the franchise’s success and how iconic Lautner’s role was, it’s clear that what the studio put him through was wholly unnecessary. Not only was it cruel to threaten to recast a teenager and force him to change his physique, but it was also bizarre that the studio was willing to make a choice that could’ve derailed the whole franchise just to bring one minor detail in the books to life.

The thing is, Lautner still didn’t look 25 in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, but audiences didn’t complain about it. Viewers cared more that he embodied the role and gave young audiences a teen heartthrob than that he didn’t look exactly like how the book described. Lautner’s story shows how an actor can be perfect for a role without looking precisely like their book counterpart. Imagining how disastrous the franchise would’ve been if it had recast him reiterates that studios should be focused on who embodies the role and appeals to audiences best because fixating only on looks could result in them losing an actor who could literally make or break the whole franchise.

(featured image: Summit Entertainment)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.