Lautner Strips in Downpour; Cruise’s Killer Spy: Hollywood Buzz

Taylor Lautner fans will see a lot more of his beefy physique in the third “Twilight” movie, which opens tomorrow.

Lautner, who plays werewolf Jacob Black, goes shirtless during most of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” He even strips down to a pair of denim shorts during rainstorms.

“Those are the most awkward scenes -- when everyone else is fully clothed, it’s raining and I’m the only person posing,” Lautner told reporters while promoting the movie in Beverly Hills, California.

Lautner, 18, had little choice because that’s how “Twilight” novelist Stephenie Meyer describes his character. Producers don’t want to upset fans by straying from the popular books.

“Whatever the book says, that’s most likely what we’re going to do,” said Lautner, whose character tries to woo human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) away from nice-guy vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

Speaking at the same press conference, Pattinson admitted he’s no match for Lautner when it comes to muscle. He once tried to grab Lautner by the shoulder in a scene, but he couldn’t get a grip.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to scare him and freak him out and turn the whole scene upside down,’” Pattinson said. “His shoulder was too big. That was kind of embarrassing.”

Pattinson said he prepared for the movie’s action scenes by improving his running style.

“I had to learn to run properly, so I spent a lot of time on a giant treadmill, like one of those wheels mice run in,” he said.

Two more “Twilight” movies, both based on the fourth novel in the series, are in the works.

Cruise’s Spy

Tom Cruise’s role as a funny killer spy in “Knight and Day” shows he’s willing to take risks as an actor, says director James Mangold.

“Year in, year out, he’s never making the safe bet,” Mangold said in a telephone interview.

Mangold compared the role to Cruise’s portrayal of a bald studio executive in “Tropic Thunder” and an assassin in “Collateral.”

“In many ways he’s a genius character actor trapped in a leading man’s body,” Mangold said. “He is willing to take risks that almost no leading man I can think of is willing to take.”

Mangold watched old Cary Grant movies, including “Charade” and “North by Northwest,” to find the right blend of violent action and lighthearted humor for “Knight and Day.”

“I think we do it with a certain elegance and bloodlessness,” Mangold said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net.

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