Kellan Lutz: Hottie on the Brink!
Kellan Lutz's career is on quite a roll. He was in Prom Night with Brittany Snow then, while in South Africa, filming the HBO mini-series "Generation Kill", which chronicles the1st Recon Marines' experiences during the first wave of the American-led assault on Baghdad in 2003, he was sent the script for the highly anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling Young Adult novel "Twilight" and won the role of Emmett. Also, he is currently filming a recurring role as the star athlete on the upcoming CW television series "90210", about the students of West Beverly Hills High. This guy really gets around!
A cute "surfer type, blonde-haired blue-eyed guy", Kellan comes from a big family that he admits keeps him in check. The 23-year-old L.A. resident is hoping to explore as many types of characters as possible, in both film and television. Lutz, who also does charity work with kids, recently spoke exclusively over the phone with TeenHollywood, about how excited he is to be a part of the hot Twilight phenomenon, "Generation Kill" and "90210".
TeenHollywood: Where are you from, and how did you end up out in Los Angeles?
Kellan: I'm from North Dakota. Growing up, I moved around the Midwest and landed in Arizona, where my mother remarried, around high school. I had so many siblings that it was a financial issue, as far as going to a better school/ We had limitations, so I worked my butt off to get to any school in California just because my father had been living there since I was six. Our plan worked and I ended up getting a lot of scholarships for a lot of schools there, and I chose Orange County's Chapman University to attend, just because it was the O.C. and it was closer to my father. I was going there for chemical engineering.
TeenHollywood: Then, how did you get into acting, and have you had any formal training?
Kellan: I've been modeling since I was 13 or 14. Once I got to L.A., the modeling market was a lot bigger, so I was like, "Wow, you can make this much money? That's 10 times as much money as in Arizona!" Then, I saw that everyone and their mother was an actor. I used to do little theater stuff for my church, growing up, like every year doing the Christmas play and Oliver Twist, and fun stuff like that. But, I had no real training, so I got into some classes. I saw the passion in everyone's eyes, and just really fell for it and loved it and wanted it. So, I found myself a manager.
TeenHollywood: Were you successful right away and what about school?
Kellan: I remember my first call-back was on finals day of my first semester at Chapman. I had to decide what to do. I thought call-backs meant that it would be down to me and one other guy, and I would get the role. I couldn't do finals because I thought that would start my career and I failed all those classes. The hardest decision in my life was to tell my mother, "Hey, mom, I want to pursue this other thing." And, she had no idea what acting really was. Coming from the Midwest, acting was unheard of. I never even knew acting was a profession and an occupation. So, I put school on hold. You can always go back to school. I was 18, at the time, and I just wanted to do it. I didn't really have too much support from my mother, with that decision. I was on my own.
TeenHollywood: Did she change her mind when things started to work out?
Kellan: The ball's been rolling great. I have no regrets. I love the decision I made, and I always will. And now, my mother is happy because I brought her to the Stick It premiere for Disney. It was a gymnastics movie. She looked so beautiful, and just had so much fun seeing what Hollywood and acting really is, and that it's not the negative occupation that she thought it was. Everything is great now.
TeenHollywood: You have a great ensemble cast for Twilight. What was that experience like? And, did you do any bonding ahead of time, so that you could appear as close as the Cullen family is in the books?
Kellan: Yeah, we actually really tried for that. Lucky for me, I knew a lot of the cast members. They were my friends, so it was really easy to step in there and be Emmett. As far as with Nikki Reed and myself, I hadn't really hung out with her, so it was my mission, as well as hers, to make the relationship of Rosalie and Emmett, and be able to portray a realness on screen. We're married and we pretend to be siblings, so we had to feel each other out and know the quirkiness of it all. So, we'd hang out and go to dinner all the time, and we built puzzles and just did random stuff. The cast would all hang out off the set because we were all around the same age range and it was such a great cast to work with. Everyone was really cool. We'd all go to dinner, or go to the bar next door and listen to the bands play, and just relax. We had some hard shoot days with a lot of stunts.
TeenHollywood: Was it a short shooting schedule?
Kellan: Yeah, it was. But, we rehearsed the heck out of all the scenes for a week and a half. I loved doing that. You can get everything down before you actually have to do it.
TeenHollywood: How did you originally get involved with Twilight?
Kellan: Actually, it was brought to my attention while I was in Africa, in October of '07. It was right when I was almost done with Generation Kill. I remember telling my agent, at the beginning of '07, that I wanted to play a Marine, a vampire and a boxer. So, the vampire thing came up, they sent me the script and I loved it. At the time, my agent was sending me out for Edward, the main character. I read it and it was just too hard to put myself on tape because I was in a third world country and, if you send a DVD, there's probably 1/10 of a chance that it will get to America. I don't care to be the lead of everything. I just like playing characters that really grab me.
TeenHollywood: Well, Emmett is pretty cool.
Kellan: I was like, "Hey, I want this Emmett guy. He's cool." And then, the project was cast. I wasn't able to put myself on tape, and everything was golden for it, so I was just like, "Okay, onto the next one" but the actor who was playing Emmett fell through, for whatever reason. So, I said, "Get me in there!" The next day, my agent said, "Your audition is tomorrow. If they like you, they're going to fly you to Oregon the next day." I went to the audition and I had a lot of people rooting for me. So, they flew me out to Oregon that night, and I had to audition for Catherine Hardwicke the next morning, at 8 o'clock. Catherine liked me a lot and said, "You're my perfect Emmett! You're it!"
TeenHollywood: Did you understand what a huge following the books have?
Kellan: I really didn't realize what Twilight was. I honestly didn't realize the huge cult following, and that there were so many books. I was just excited that someone wrote an amazing script that was so sensual. It's beautiful. It's a love story about a vampire and a human girl, and what they can and cannot do. It was just really cool. So, once I found out that there were books, I did myself some reading and fell in love with the whole series.
TeenHollywood: Now that you know about the devoted following, does that freak you out at all? Have you had any strange experiences with fans yet?
Kellan: No, it doesn't freak me out. I like it. It makes me smile. I don't really get weirded out by anything in life. The fans are super-cool. I love talking to them because this is for them. This is a secondary Bible to some of them. They love the books. Having my hair black and not curly was life or death. Nothing really scares me. Even when they found our hotel rooms while we were filming, I was happy to chat with them. It was really cool. The fans are great.
TeenHollywood: When you're playing a vampire, how do you find something to identify with since you can't draw from personal experience?
Kellan: I really feel lucky to be Emmett because, he is one of the few that really is indifferent, as far as being a vampire. Unlike Edward, who finds it a negative that he can't die and he has to live like this forever, Emmett is such a worry-free soul. He just loves it. He's like, "I get to live forever, fly, jump far and have extra strength." As an actor, I'm trying to portray the free will of it. It's not really a complex story, like the other characters might have. I just tried to have him enjoy it, the most he can.
TeenHollywood: Having wanted to play a vampire, were you disappointed at all that you didn't get to wear any fangs?
Kellan: In the beginning, I was like, "You're kidding me, right? Give me fangs! I want fangs!" But, no, not at all. I really think that's the beauty of it. They really humanize us, which hasn't been done that much. Everyone sees the clichéd Dracula with the fangs and the blood coming off of him, whereas us Cullens do want to try to fit in. We don't want to look scary or stand out. Yeah, we have pale skin and cool eyes, but I really like the humanization of it all.
TeenHollywood: What is your involvement with the new CW "90210" series?
Kellan: I love that show. It's going amazing. The cast is so cool. I'm working with a lot of friends, which always makes it easy. My character, George Evans, is the cocky [guy] of the school who just doesn't care. He's from a rich family. If he got suspended, he'd pay his way out. He's supposed to be the lacrosse star, and then Dixon (Tristan Wilds) comes in and steals his thunder, so he really gets pissed. He never likes to be second place. I'm having a lot of fun playing him. I can't wait for his story to develop some more.
TeenHollywood: Do you know how many episodes you're going to be in?
Kellan: A million because the show will last forever [laughs]. I'm in the first three, for sure. And, they can take it wherever they want. I'm just happy to be a part of it. Being a recurring character is amazing as well.
TeenHollywood: How did you get involved with "Generation Kill"? Was it through the regular auditioning process, or had they seen you in something you had done?
Kellan: I auditioned for it, and the casting director just really had a great eye, as far as what was going to be needed. It takes a special kind of actor to be able to work for seven months in a third world country with 30-some odd men, and to get along and to not lose your mind and go crazy. I really thank the casting director for allowing me to play Jason Lilley. I just had the best time ever doing it.
TeenHollywood: What can you say about the mini-series to get young people interested in watching it, especially for those who might be wary of watching a war film?
Kellan: Thank god we have HBO, where something like this can be so true to its colors and not have to sugar-coat stuff. We were painting the truest picture ever captured of the Marine Corps and what happened. I have a brother who's currently in the Marines, and just showing him pieces of what happened, he loved it. He was like, "Kellan, that is exactly what happened." It really just paints the picture of the 2003 Recon Marines. They were the best of the best, in training, tactical weaponry and they spear-headed the invasion of Baghdad without any deaths, which was quite remarkable.
TeenHollywood: So, it's the real story and you are playing a real guy. How does your character fit in with the rest of the characters?
Kellan: Jason Lilley is the coolest. I loved talking to him, and I loved playing him. He's just such a cool guy. Lilley is the driver of the 2-1 Alpha Bravo Team. The driver's job is crazy. You drive all the time and the seats are terrible. And, when there's fire-fights, you have to drive and shoot at the same time, and sometimes wear your night-vision goggles. Just being an actor, trying to portray it, I was like, "How the heck did they do all this?" It's amazing. And, they do it so well.
TeenHollywood: Did you participate in the actor boot camp?
Kellan: I loved the boot camp. I think it was originally supposed to be three and a half weeks, and they had to shorten it down to two. It was a lot of fun, learning Jujitsu, and doing obstacle courses, and doing wheelbarrow races, and push-up drills, and abs and crunches, for hours upon hours. And then, we'd run. The best part about it was that we'd have classroom training also and they would talk to us about all the weaponry and what the rounds would do and how far they would go. Just seeing all of us actors, wearing all of our Marine get-up in the classroom, it was real. It was really cool.
TeenHollywood: Did you enjoy the experience of working in such a large ensemble of actors?
Kellan: When we went to South Africa, and we were in Upington, they rented out the whole hotel to us, which was about 40 rooms. It was like a frat house and we would watch movies downstairs, or people would be joking and playing board games and eating. That's where the camaraderie really came in. There were no fights at all. It was just guys being guys, and we had so much fun.
TeenHollywood: You seem to play very different types of characters. Is that intentional, or has it just worked out that way because you responded to something in these projects?
Kellan: It's definitely both. It's something that we've worked for. In the beginning of every year, I sit down with my team and I tell them the roles I'd like to play because there are a lot of other actors out there like me. I have blonde hair and blue eyes, and I'm big enough to play the stupid jock or the star football player. Being choosy allows me to not be typecast. I've gone from a Marine to a vampire to a jock, and I've changed my hair and grown it out. Now, I'm playing high school again. I love being able to switch it up and seeing how far I can go with the boundaries.
TeenHollywood: Are you looking to continue to do a mixture of film and television, or do you hope to focus more on film in the future?
Kellan: I've always been a film junkie but I love TV as well. I'd love to do two movies and then do TV for 13 episodes, and then another two movies. Usually, movies do shoot out of town, and I have so much here in L.A. Thank god, I finally got something that shoots in L.A., so I can be around my dog and my family and friends. It's just really nice to go back and forth.
TeenHollywood: Is there a type of project or role that you're hoping to do in the future, that you haven't had the chance to do yet?
Kellan: Yeah, I'd really like to play a very complex druggie. I'd love to be able to show some depth and to cry and to show life's troubles. They look for that brunette kid with long hair who's skinny. I'd really love to tackle that. I love the edgier stuff and the independent stuff.
TeenHollywood: What is the Royal Family Kids' Camp, and why is it so important for you to be involved with, and give your time to?
Kellan: I love kids! I've grown up seeing a lot of issues. I've lived out of a van, a lot of times in my life. After the divorce, I had it really hard and we were scraping pennies. I didn't live out of a box or anything, but poverty was around. I love kids. I can't wait to have a couple Kellans running around. I can't wait to be a father. It's not a rush right now, but when it happens, it's going to be awesome. At the Royal Family Kids' Camp, from Sunday to Friday, we throw this week-long camp, down at Point Loma University, and we have kids from group homes and kids who were molested, growing up. They've never been loved, and they've never known who their mother or father is. A lot of times, they've never even had a birthday [party].
TeenHollywood: So you throw them one?
Kellan: We throw a giant birthday for all of them, and we give them presents and cupcakes and we sing "Happy Birthday." Seeing these kids melt down and say, "Is this really for me?," is really heartbreaking. I just want to take them home and give them a world that they've never had, it's gut-wrenching to say goodbye. And, a lot of times, they're crying, holding onto your leg, saying, "I don't want to leave! I had the best time here!" There are Royal Family Kids' Camps all across the nation, as well as internationally. It's quite an amazing program, and it's very rewarding to do. I just love it. I love kids, and I love giving back. It's fun.
TeenHollywood: Because your family was not very supportive, initially, in your decision to become an actor, does it make your current success that much more rewarding for you?
Kellan: It really does. [My mom] is really supportive now. She came out to my "Generation Kill" premiere with my step-father, who was actually in the Air Force, and it was fun, bringing them out here. I took them to dinner and paid for it. I wanted to do that because they've done so much for me and now it's all about giving back. I remember telling my mom, when I was in middle school, "One day I'm going to build your dream house. Whatever you want, I'm going to build it." It was such a dream, but it's going to come true, one day. It's going to be fun to actually do that.