Actor worked on his physique for 'Twilight' sequel

A year ago, Robert Pattinson was easily the most popular “Twilight” star. These days, as any teen can tell you, he’s got competition from 16-year-old Taylor Lautner, who plays wolf boy (and stand-in love interest) Jacob in “New Moon.”

But in a Hollywood tale well known to Twi-hards, Lautner almost didn’t get the gig.

When it came time to greenlight the “Twilight” sequel, producers worried that the slim teen (who got his break in “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl”) wouldn’t be able to portray Jacob, whom author Stephenie Meyer described as markedly taller and more muscular than the pipsqueak Bella initially ignores.

Not wanting to surrender the role, Lautner began an intense training regimen before “Twilight” even hit theaters. By the time a decision had to be made, he’d gained an impressive 30 pounds of muscle. But it wasn’t weightlifting that did the trick, but eating as often as every two hours.

Speaking on the set of “New Moon,” Lautner said, “At one point, my trainer said, ‘Put anything in your mouth. Go to McDonald’s, get the biggest shake possible, I just need to get calories in you.’ Because my body fat at the time was only, like, 7.5%.”

And no one was happier the actor made it work than director Chris Weitz, who points out, “He went from a character that had three small scenes in the first movie and only worked three days or something to one of the dominant characters.”

Impact: The “Twilight” actor buffed up to keep the starring role of Jacob in “New Moon.”

Next: A small role in Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day,” the David Slade-helmed “Eclipse” and a number of “exciting projects” he’s not ready to announce yet.

Causes: Lollipop Theater Network.

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