updated 01/08/2009 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/08/2009 AT 10:00 AM ET
The speculation is over: Taylor Lautner will get to play Jacob Black after all in the Twilight sequel New Moon.
“It was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob,” director Chris Weitz announced in a statement Jan. 7.
Questions had arisen about whether the 16-year-old could effectively portray his werewolf character, who ages 10 years and grows much taller and bulkier in the film’s sequel. But Weitz said Lautner, who’s been hitting the gym to build muscle, is “emotionally right for the part” and has the movie studio’s full support.
In a recent PEOPLE.com poll, readers overwhemingly voted to keep Lautner rather than see him replaced by actor Michael Copon, 26, a rumored rival for the role.
– Tiffany McGee
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