PREVIOUSLY: Twilight mania catches the box office—and its unsuspecting stars—by surprise.
Things were moving fast. The day after Twilight's $36 million opening day, Summit announced New Moon was a go and bound for theaters as soon as the following year.
As director Catherine Hardwicke hammered out a deal, others were nailed shut. Melissa Rosenberg would be back as screenwriter; and, of course, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart would be back as Edward and Bella, at substantial raises, no less.
But for the two stars there would be steep prices to pay.
Since Twilight broke big, Pattinson's dating life had become the world's favorite new spectator sport, even if there wasn't much to see. Pattinson repeatedly said he didn't have a girlfriend, an assertion that only seemed to encourage the gossip press to dig harder, and to link him to actress Camilla Belle (10,000 B.C.), Twilight costar Nikki Reed and, inevitably, Stewart.
The first serious Pattinson-Stewart rumors popped up within weeks of the film's release. But as much as the story played into Twilight's true-love ethos, it initially didn't gain much traction. Stewart, after all, had a boyfriend, actor Michael Angarano (Jack's son on Will & Grace). Stewart and Pattinson, Stewart would insist to E! News, were "great friends." No more, no less.
On Dec. 7, 2008, with Twilight still going strong at the box office, word broke that Hardwicke and the vampire franchise were breaking up. Though there was chatter of personal discord between the filmmaker and the studio, Hardwicke would say her exit came down to Summit wanting New Moon done faster than she thought it could be done.
Summit, indeed, was committed to moving at warp speed. Just six days after the Hardwicke exit, Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) was tapped to direct New Moon.
One of Weitz's first decisions: What to do about Jacob Black.
Taylor Lautner was in limbo.
Even before New Moon's director shakeup, Lautner, who'd played Jacob in Twilight, was unsure whether he'd be back as author Stephenie Meyer's wolf in teenaged clothing. Indeed, there was no mention of Lautner in the press release announcing the Twilight sequel.
The main obstacle to Lautner's casting seemed to be a physical one. In New Moon, Jacob transforms from a kid to a mature, muscular hulk who stands as a romantic and territorial rival of Edward. (In Meyer's world, warm-blooded wolves, like Jacob, and cold-blooded vampires, like Edward, do not mix.)
Lautner, who'd come to Hollywood via martial arts, and who'd become a minor child star at age 13 courtesy The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, was up for the challenge. As soon as he was done shooting Twilight, he hit the gym.
By mid-December 2008, he'd reported packing on nearly 20 pounds, and pledged to have 10 more on his frame by the time New Moon began filming. In photos from that period, Lautner didn't look all that much different from the spiky-haired teen who'd walked the red carpet at the Twilight premiere—until you noticed the neck, which was beginning to resemble a tree trunk.
On Jan. 7, 2009, Lautner's wait was over: He'd won the role—again. "It was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob," Weitz wrote in a note posted on Meyer's Website.
Lautner had his shot and his second chance all rolled in one. The question was what was he going to make of it. The answer was more than anyone expected.