Taylor Daniel Lautner (pronounced, lowt-ner) is an American actor, voice actor, model, and martial artist. As a child, Lautner took up martial arts in Holland, Michigan and was ranked number one in his category by the American Sports Karate Association. Lautner soon thereafter began his acting career, appearing in bit roles in comedy series such as The Bernie Mac Show (2003) and My Wife and Kids (2004), before having voice roles in television series like What's New, Scooby-Doo? (2005) and Danny Phantom (2005). In 2005, he appeared in the film Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and starred in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.
Lautner was born to Deborah and Daniel Lautner. His mother works for a software development company, while his father is a Midwest Airlines pilot. He has one younger sister named Makena. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Lautner is of mixed German, French, and Dutch heritage, and has "distant" Native American ancestry (specifically Ottawa and Potawatomi), through his mother. Lautner grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids. Lautner stated that when he was younger he was bullied in school because he was an actor. He commented, "I just had to tell myself I can't let this get to me. This is what I love to do. And I'm going to continue doing it."
He took his first karate class at the age of six. A year later, he attended the national karate tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, where he met Michael Chaturantabut, the founder of Xtreme Martial Arts. Chaturantabut invited Lautner to a camp he held at University of California, Los Angeles. Lautner trained with Chaturantabut for several years, earning his black belt by the age of eight, and winning several junior world championships. He appeared in an ISKA karate event televised on ESPN in 2003 that was later lampooned on the sports-comedy show Cheap Seats that first aired in 2006.
Chaturantabut, who once portrayed the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, suggested to Lautner that he take up acting. For a few years, the Lautners flew from Michigan to Los Angeles for auditions when his talent agency called, and returned to Grand Rapids for school sometimes the same day. Lautner balanced karate and acting with being on the football and baseball teams at his school, and taking up jazz and hip-hop dance. After that became tiring, Lautner and his family decided to move to California for a month, to try it out, before moving to Santa Clarita, California, permanently in 2002.
In his first months after moving to Los Angeles, Lautner appeared in small television roles, small film roles, and ads and commercials. In 2001, Lautner first appeared in the made-for-television film, Shadow Fury. He then got a voice-over job in a commercial for Rugrats Go Wild. He then appeared in small television parts on The Bernie Mac Show, My Wife and Kids, and Summerland. Lautner then earned voice-over roles in animated series such as Danny Phantom, Duck Dodgers, and What's New, Scooby-Doo?. In 2005, he had a role as Elliot Murtaugh in the comedy film Cheaper by the Dozen 2. The same year, he earned his first breakout role, starring in the film, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. Lautner spent three months on location in Austin, Texas, to film the movie, which was received with negative reviews from critics, and was a minor international success. However, Lautner was nominated at the 2006 Young Artist Awards for Best Performance in a Feature Film by a Leading Actor. For the film, Lautner choreographed all of his fight scenes after director Robert Rodríguez learned of his extensive martial arts training. Months later, he was cast as Eliot Murtaugh in Cheaper by the Dozen 2, which was panned by critics, being named one of the "Worst Films of the 2000s" by Rotten Tomatoes. After returning from Canada filming the latter movie, Lautner said he realized his newfound fame, from Sharkboy and Lavagirl. In 2008 he appeared in the show Love Inc. and the TV special He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Two years later, Lautner appeared in a lead role in the short-lived NBC drama, My Own Worst Enemy, portraying Christian Slater's son, Jack Spivey. Rolling Stone coined his early roles as either "the popular kid, jock, or bully."
In 2007, filmmakers began a search for actors to portray Jacob Black, a Native American friend of lead character Bella Swan in Twilight, the first film in the The Twilight Saga film series. In January 2008, an open casting call was held in Portland, Oregon. Lautner had not heard of the Twilight series before, but was urged by his agent to audition. At his audition, he read lines with Kristen Stewart, who had already been cast as Bella, and they acted out scenes from The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The film was a commercial success, earning $69 million its opening weekend, and has grossed $392 million worldwide. It received mixed reviews from critics, having a "Rotten" rating with a weighted average of 5.5/10. In describing the critical consensus, it stated: "Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated." At the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Lautner was nominated for Male Breakthrough Performance, which was won by co-star Robert Pattinson.
Initially, director Chris Weitz wanted to recast the role of Jacob Black for Twilight's sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, due to the major physical changes that occur in Black between the two novels, and have an actor that would accurately portray "the new, larger Jacob Black." Black's role in the novel also increases significantly, with him falling in love with Bella and becoming a werewolf, putting the actor in a starring role. Representatives for Weitz had stated that they were make a full effort to recast the "high-profile gig," and MTV News confirmed that Weitz was looking at Michael Copon to take on the role; however, Summit Entertainment said a decision had not been made. In an attempt to keep the role, Lautner weight-trained extensively and gained approximately 30 pounds of muscle. In January 2009, Weitz and Summit Entertainment announced that Lautner would continue to play the role of Jacob in the sequel. In an interview, fellow cast member Kristen Stewart talked about Lautner's transformation saying, "He's an entirely different person physically." Stewart later said, "He gets a lot of attention because he's buff, but I think as soon as the movie comes out, people are going to realize that's not why he got the job." Co-star Robert Pattinson said after seeing Lautner's body, "I saw him and thought 'Jesus, I'm going to get fired." In an interview with The Wrap, Weitz said Lautner deserved a lot of credit for the movie's box office, stating, "If you look at the movie, it should have been the weakest in the franchise, because Robert Pattinson doesn't play as big a role." Weitz said Lautner had to "pick up that slack, and if his character hadn't been emotionally, not just physically, appealing, the movie wouldn't have been as big a hit." Lautner won Favorite Breakout Movie Actor at the 35th People's Choice Awards.
Lautner returned for the third Twilight film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, in 2010. Receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film surpassed its predecessor to become the highest-grossing film of the franchise and the highest-grossing romantic fantasy, werewolf and vampire movie of all time at the American and Canadian box office. It ranks as the 36th highest grossing film of all-time in the U.S. and Canada. The popularity of Lautner and his cast members continued to summit, especially via the "Team Edward vs. Team Jacob" campaign that promoted the film. Lautner's fanbase also began to expand to older audiences. Lautner won "Best Fantasy Actor" at the 2010 Scream Awards, and he is nominated for "Favorite Movie Actor" for his role in Eclipse at the 37th People's Choice Awards. On November 2010 The Hollywood Reporter named Lautner as one of the young male actors who are “pushing – or being pushed” into taking over Hollywood as the new “A-List”.
Lautner was initially supposed to be in two films, Northern Lights and a movie based on Max Steel, but pulled out of both films due to scheduling conflicts and better offers. Other planned projects were the lead in a movie about Stretch Armstrong and a hostage thriller, Cancun. Lautner filmed a Bourne Identity-esque spy film with Lily Collins, entitled Abduction. It was released in September 2011 to universally negative critical reviews and Lautner's performance was heavily criticised. He will appear in the remaining parts of the Twilight series, the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn films, which are anticipated to be released over a two-year period from 2011–2012.
As of 2010, Lautner was considered to be the highest-paid teen actor in Hollywood.