Twilight star's Columbus connection - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Twilight star's Columbus connection

It is a series of movies that have caused teenage girls to swoon and fall in love with vampires and werewolves.

While Twilight fans lined up for their copy of Breaking Dawn: Part One on DVD on Friday before midnight, News Leader 9 found two local men who say they knew one of the movie's stars before he was a werewolf.

Before Taylor Lautner made it big in Hollywood, he was a different kind of star in martial arts.

"Taylor is a very quiet, sometimes humble, but he liked to play, but he's very respectable," said Young Won, a Columbus martial arts instructor.

Won remembers Lautner when he was just a little boy.  The future Hollywood heart-throb was part of a martial arts tournament circuit that toured the country and Won was an instructor.

"He deserves it because he works very hard.  Like I said, he's a very disciplined, hardworking young man, and he was very ambitious about what he wanted to do.  He always wanted to be in Hollywood and be a Hollywood star," said Won.

A picture of a young Lautner hangs in Won's martial arts gym.  Just behind him is his fellow competitor, Jake Strickland.  Years later, Strickland still remembers his old friend.

"He's always been a great friend of mine.  We used to run the circuit together and competed against each other every other year, and I can't say much more.  He was just a really good friend," said Strickland.

He says even though he has not talked to Lautner since they were kids, it is always exciting to see him on the big screen.

"Every time I see him, of course, I can always whisper, I know him!"

While the girls may squeal every time they see him, Strickland says it is not a new thing for Lautner.

"He's always been a ladies' man.  Taylor has always been a ladies' man," said Strickland.

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