It’s hard not to notice Kellan Lutz when he walks into a room. Unlike the vampire, Emmett Cullen, that he plays in “Twilight,” it’s not because of his icy, pale skin or his alternately gold or black eyes. Kellan fills up a room with the warm, jovial personality he shares with his famous blood-sucking character.
But don’t take our word for it. Just ask the teenage girls who waited for hours-upon-end this weekend just to get a glimpse of him as he passed through the Natick Collection on his “New Moon” mall tour. Even without the appeal of his co-star Ashley Greene (“She’s my best friend,” he said), who was supposed to join him (her appearance was cancelled), Lutz, with his blue eyes and movie star smile, had no trouble filling a mall with screeching “Twi-hards” a week before the release of “New Moon.”
But just a few hours before the Natick Collection madness began, Kellan, dressed in black from head to toe, capped off with brightly bleached hair (it’s jet black in “Twilight”) sat down with Blast and a few other reporters to talk about sudden fame, snowboarding and making fun of co-star Kristen Stewart.
Like many of the actors in “Twilight,” Lutz was just another struggling actor before his role in the vampire series thrust him into the spotlight. With a few parts here and there, he wasn’t unknown, but the “Twilight” phenomenon brought him and many of his cast mates unprecedented fame.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Lutz plays a lovable, bulky vegetarian vampire in “Twilight” who likes to play off of his more serious, sparkly brother, Edward. Edward is caught in a tricky situation with a human girlfriend named Bella and his overwhelming desire to have her for lunch. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
Those who have seen the movie might not be able to picture Lutz in any other role, though he says it came very close to being that way. Initially, he was offered an audition for the part of Edward, the pensive, pining bloodthirsty lead.
“I had just gotten back from doing ‘Generation Kill,'” Lutz said, “which was seven months in Africa portraying Marines killing people. I did not want to play a depressed, complex character like Edward. And my agent’s like â€˜It’s gonna be huge!’ and I’m like â€˜Cool!’ *click* (simulates hanging up a phone).”
But thanks to that persistent agent and a change of perspective, Lutz found his way to playing Emmett Cullen, who he claims he is more suited for.
“He’s this happy-go-lucky guy with no fears,” Lutz said with a gleaming smile. “He’s indestructible. He’s this monster. And he just laughs, cause nothing can hurt him…and he just makes fun of Bella.”
Fans of the books know that Emmett Cullen spends most of his time finding ways to poke fun at the saga’s clumsy, red-faced heroine Bella Swan, played in the films by Kristen Stewart. Lutz brought that spirit to the set of “New Moon” and “Eclipse” by ribbing Stewart whenever he got the chance.
“I do!” Lutz said when asked if he liked making fun of people on set. “Especially Kristen…we had some great scenes in ‘Eclipse,’ and it’s fun just hanging out with her, ’cause she’s just such a free bird. Saying the funny lines that my character gets to say and having her laugh when she’s not supposed to…(she’d say) â€˜You guys, we gotta go again!’ She’s adorable.”
Lutz shared about a specific scene in Eclipse where, though she tried, Stewart couldn’t keep a straight face due to Lutz’s humor.
“There’s a scene when Bella hurts her arm because she hits Jacob,” Lutz said, “and so Jasper and I walk in, and I say some really funny comments. She tried to go tit-for-tat with the humor, (but) she just kept on laughing.”
Lutz, Stewart and the rest of the ensemble cast for “Twilight” have been working together for two years, giving them time to develop a rapport. But critics wondered if that chemistry would be altered when the decision was made to find a new director for the second film, “New Moon.” Once the success of the franchise became apparent after the release of “Twilight” ( “It opened so high that they greenlit it the next day, which was amazing,” Lutz said) the sequels were put on the fast-track to release.
“Twilight” Director Catherine Hardwicke declined to direct “New Moon,” claiming she would need more time to prepare than the studio would allow. Director Chris Weitz (“About A Boy,” “American Pie”) was quickly brought in, and the Twilight world waited with baited breath to see if he could recreate the magic in “New Moon” that Hardwicke had brought to “Twilight.”
Lutz said that the two directors had very different styles, but each suited the story they told. “Twilight” had to make a vampire love story not only realistic, but compelling, and Lutz said Hardwicke succeeded in making that happen.
“‘Twilight’ is an artsy movie, and Catherine had just such a great independent style,” Lutz said. “She really captured the beauty of what ‘Twilight’ is.”
“New Moon,” which details the heartrending loss of first love, called for a melancholy tone, which Lutz said Weitz was perfect for. “(Weitz is) so chill. He’s so easygoing,” Lutz said. “It didn’t feel like work.”
In “New Moon,” much to the fans’ dismay, Lutz and the rest of the Cullens disappear for awhile, acting in Bella’s best interest.
“All us Cullens wish we could be in that movie so much more,” Lutz said. “But we can’t because we’re sticking really close to the book. And we’re in the movie for the really crucial scenes, but we disappear. We go away for Bella’s safety.”
Now, before the second movie has even been released, the third one is on its way — and yes, there’s yet another director. David Slade (“30 Days of Night”) is following Weitz’s tear-tinged “New Moon” with an edgier “Eclipse,” which just wrapped filming.
In “Eclipse,” the Cullens are back…along with some werewolves, some angry vampires and a very clumsy Bella. This makes for a lot of fight scenes, which are Lutz’s forte.
“In ‘Eclipse,’ I worked so much doing fight training,” Lutz said. “My character’s there for all the action.”
But Lutz wanted to make sure he got in on the real action on set.
“I nagged and nagged and nagged so I could do all my stunts,” he said. “And I was so annoying that finally — I’ve been annoying for the past two years trying to do my stunts — they finally allowed me to do a lot of my own stunts, which is great. ‘Cause whenever I can do that, I put 150 percent into it, versus stunt guys who get paid, you know, to not get hurt. They don’t wanna get hurt, ’cause that’s their job, so they do it, like, 145 percent. I just enjoy doing them. They’re fun to me. I’m a thrill seeker. I like taking risks and getting hurt.”
There’s one film left to make in the series, but Lutz expressed concern that “Breaking Dawn” may never make it to the big screen. Contrary to the pacing of the first three films, Lutz said all of the actors are killing time while the studio has yet to release the names of potential directors, release dates or any other plans for the film.
“We aren’t filming it,” Lutz said. “There’s no word. It’s a real bummer because when we did ‘Twilight,’ we always hoped to continue on with the book series.”
With the success of the franchise came more big-name actors, like Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning. Lutz said he fears that if the studio doesn’t move fast, they’ll lose their cast to other projects, putting the “Twilight” saga on hold.
“Us actors are having offers for tons of stuff now,” Lutz said. “To get the…actors that are a part of this — the Volturi, the wolves, the Cullens, that’s a lot of actors to just say months before we shoot, â€˜Hey, can you guys come do this movie?’ ‘Cause we don’t have contracts. Versus the first three films we were all under contract. So nothing’s telling us ‘hold these dates.’ There’s only a small time frame that we could shoot…because of weather. So I hope they make their mind (up) after ‘New Moon’ comes out.”
Lutz said the determination of the film’s future might be in the hands of “Twilight” fans.
“I think it really matters for the fans,” he said. “If they come out and support ‘New Moon’ like they did ‘Twilight,’ and then ‘Eclipse.’ Because we all want to finish this baby. It’s such a part of us and it would just seem empty not to finish the last chapter.”
Lutz also addressed the rumor that “Breaking Dawn,” the longest novel in the saga, might be filmed in two parts.
“I’d hope that they’d want to shoot it all,” he said, “cause it’s such a big book. If they were to split itâ€¦there’s not really a clear line. I feel like if you did three fourths of the book and then the last part or somethingâ€¦but I think they would have to shoot it all in one push. Five months worth. But if they don’t greenlight it…”
Portraying a playful vampire and joking around on set makes Lutz’s job sound pretty ideal. It becomes clear, though, that it’s not all fun and games as he described his taxing tour schedule.
“Definitely the hard part,” he said, “is just getting on the airplane and trying to find time to sleep.”
Hopping back and forth between the East and West Coasts and getting three to four hours of sleep on average, Lutz said he relies on the love and support of the fans to sustain him.
“Definitely meeting the fans and the energy that they bring really keeps you going,” he said.
Due to the series’ instant popularity, its stars, and by default, Lutz, instantly lost much of their privacy to the persistent clicks of paparazzi cameras following their every move. Lutz initially didn’t have it as bad as his co-stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, but it wasn’t long before a photo surfaced of him, shirtless, exercising in his own gym.
“Being a part of ‘Twilight,'” he said, “definitely opened my eyes to how nuts it is to be a named actor and have paparazzi follow you and crash their cars trying to get pictures of you. And all you can do is be like, â€˜Ha ha. Karma.'”
But the sudden fame will have no lasting effect on his life, Lutz claims. He said he plans on using it to pursue his acting dreams, but nothing else.
“You know, I’m not here to become famous or to be a millionaire,” he said. “I’m just very passionate. You know, I might have to do my hair before I go out more,” Lutz said. “(But) I’m not gonna let anything change me. I think fame or whatever it is we have changes the people around you. And as long as you stay true to yourself, everyone else will get a wakeup call and you’ll find out who your real friends are and who’s in it to get something else out of you.”
Lutz told us that though he enjoys his work, he’s eager to get home after the press tour to spend some time with none other than his mother for the holidays.
“My mom’s very traditional,” he said, “and puts up lights and cooks great meals with little cookies…it’s just great to be with family. I feel like a little kid when I go home. I have a little stocking full of, you know, candy. It’s great.”
He said he also looks forward to fitting in one of his favorite pastimes over the holiday season — snowboarding.
“I have my season pass in California,” Lutz said. “I bring my dog in my truck, and throw my boards in the back. It’s a piece of crap truck. But it’s my baby. I love it.”
Look for Kellan Lutz in “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” which hits theaters this Friday.