There's been a lot of industry chatter about Twilight star Taylor Lautner's new action thriller, Abduction (in theaters this Friday). The biggest question is, Does the teen heartthrob have it in him to transcend beyond his tween fanbase and possibly lead a new class of American action heroes?
Monday morning's box office returns will ultimately decide his fate, but, on an acting level, if Lautner does pull off the image leap, he'll have one man to thank: his Abduction general, director John Singleton. That's right, the acclaimed filmmaker behind Boyz N The Hood, Higher Learning, and Four Brothers can now add "action thriller" to the list of genres that he's tackled so far in his impressive career.
Complex recently caught up with Singleton to discuss his genre shifts, whether Taylor Lautner has what it takes to become an action hero, and Abduction's big set-piece inside Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
Interview by Frazier Tharpe (@The_SummerMan)
Complex: Abduction is a bit of a departure from your previous work. How did you come across the script?
John Singleton: Well, I was talking to a friend at a party and she told me, "The studio has a movie with Taylor Lautner and they're thinking about you to direct it." [I was excited by] the chance to bring something really unique to the project. Especially considering Taylor, it was a real cool chance to do something with him that hasn't been done before.
What was it like working with him?
Man, it was great. He really brought his A-game and was very commited to this idea of showing audiences this new side of him.
Abduction is being billed as his big non-Twilight breakout. Do you see a big future ahead for him, particularly in action?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. He's gonna be around for years to come.
The movie is also a breakout for Lily Collins. How was she on set?
Man, she's awesome. This is only like, what, her second movie since The Blind Side... Well third, she was also in Priest. But she is just fearless. She's got a bright future ahead of her, as well.
So are we looking at the next Mark Wahlberg and Angelina Jolie here?
[Laughs.] Time will tell. That depends on what future roles they take.
Can you talk a little bit about the movie's big climax at PNC Park?
Well, I can tell you that it was a game day. They played the Mets and it was the shortest game ever, [at] two-and-a half-hours. And we shot the whole thing in that time-frame. It was scary, exhilarating, and, ultimately, very fun and exciting.
So this is your first action thriller. Did you enjoy the experience?
Yea man, it was great. I'm not sure what the future holds for me—I just go wherever it takes me.
Looking at your filmography, it seems like you're trying to take on a bunch of different genres.
Yeah, well, I look at filmmaking as an adventure. This was the next step in that adventure, and I'm always looking to try new things.
Are there any genres you haven't done yet that you still want to tackle? Or are you looking to return to your roots with something a little closer to Boyz N The Hood?
Nah, we'll see, man—wherever the work takes me.
Are you involved in any projects at the moment?
Yeah, I've got a couple but they're too premature to talk about right now.
Fair enough. Lastly, can you tell us why the movie is called Abduction? Because, really, no one is actually abducted in it.
[Laughs.] You know, it's more about the mystery, the question of whether he was abducted as a child. Plus, that was the name of the script when we got it. And you never change the script title—it's all semantics. [Laughs.]