As Taylor Lautner’s Hollywood profile surges, his handlers are looking for a project for the teen wolf to sink his teeth into next. One strong possibility: “Max Steel,” a Paramount movie about a teenage superhero.
The actor’s representatives at WME and Management 360 are brainstorming about the next move for the 17-year-old Michigan native who plays Jacob in the “Twilight” franchise. Lautner emerged as the big winner after the blockbuster success of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” but, at the moment, his only other big-screen appearance on deck is a character role in Garry Marshall’s ensemble romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day.” That movie has wrapped, so Lautner has a relatively open calendar.
Paramount, meanwhile, is eager to develop more toy properties along the lines of its “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” franchises. Like those films, “Steel” traces back to the toy shelf — the Mattel line that hit stores in 2001, pulled in $100 million in worldwide business in its first year and spawned an animated series that lasted three seasons.
Lautner would play Josh McGrath, a 19-year-old extreme-sports athlete who is accidentally exposed to the unleashed power of nanotechological machines, which become part of him and (in the old show, at least) give him increased strength, near-invulnerability and the ability to change his appearance.
It’s worth noting that Paramount and other studios are eager to cast Lautner because he can bring young women into theaters — always a positive for any action picture.
J.P. Lavin and Chad Damiani are on board to write (they’re also writing the screenplay for the Warner Bros. superhero action movie “Capeshooters,” based on the Rob Liefeld comic book, as well as the Liefeld property “Youngblood“). The script for “Steel” is still being written, which means it could be a while before Lautner actually is seen onscreen in even the most favorable of circumstances. (Paramount and WME declined comment.)
For now, Lautner can continue to draft off his “New Moon” success: Next week he completes a pop-culture rite of passage by hosting “Saturday Night Live” [Dec. 12].
— Steven Zeitchik
RECENT AND RELATED
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post gave the wrong date for the “SNL” show.