The Real Reason Taylor Lautner Didn't Return As Sharkboy In We Can Be Heroes

Robert Rodriguez, who is mostly known for directing adult fare like Sin CityPlanet Terror, and Machete, isn't afraid to dip his toes into the more PG-variety of entertainment. He helmed all four films in the Spy Kids franchise as well as The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Most recently, Rodriguez has returned to the latter kind of movie with the Netflix original We Can Be Heroes, which gave something families to enjoy together on Christmas Day of 2020. 

After the adult superheroes of the world go missing, it's up to their superpowered children to pick up the slack and save the day from an alien threat. It's similar in aesthetic to Rodriguez's previous kid-friendly efforts, which is why it made total sense for the film to usher in the return of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. When it was announced back in November 2020 Taylor Dooley would reprise her role of Lavagirl, fans of the original film were hyped. However, there was also plenty of confusion surrounding why Taylor Lautner wouldn't come back as Sharkboy. Instead, Sharkboy is played by JJ Dashnaw despite the fact Taylor Lautner hasn't acted in anything since the TV series Cuckoo ended in 2018. Hollywood doesn't really cast him anymore, so you'd think he'd be chomping at the bit to come back for this superhero spin-off. 

Robert Rodriguez recently set the record straight on why Lautner doesn't return as Sharkboy this time around, and whether he could come back as the character in a future installment of this series. 

Robert Rodriguez says Sharkboy's role in the movie wasn't big enough to bring back Taylor Lautner

In an interview with Deciderdirector Robert Rodriguez was asked whether he made an attempt to bring back Taylor Lautner to the role that made him famous prior to Twilight. He explains, "I mean, it was never meant as a sequel to that movie. This was always an original film for Netflix. So I asked Taylor Dooley if she could be a lead. It wasn't about them, so there wasn't a lot of dialogue. There's a little bit with her and her connection with the daughter, and she was up for coming back, coloring her hair. But I did call Taylor [Lautner] to let him know, 'There's no dialogue. It's not about the parents. It's not really a sequel — you'd have your face covered the whole time.'"

Rodriguez goes on to compare Sharkboy as being this movie's Batman, in that he's more of a stoic figure who's a silent presence amongst the rest of the bombastic heroes. While passing references are made to Sharkboy's wonderful song from the original movie, he never actually sings, or even talks, in this adventure. Rodriguez didn't want Lautner to be confined to such a minimal role, stating, "He became such a big star after Twilight that he would have an expectation. Could you imagine if he was in it, and then they see it and they're like, 'Wait! His face is covered the whole time! Hey, he didn't have any dialogue!' It'd certainly look like a demerit against him, and I wouldn't want that."

Anyone hoping to watch Lautner take a bite out of supervillains in the future shouldn't give up hope yet. Rodriguez doesn't rule out returning to this world in the future, suggesting, "Maybe if this is really successful and there's a bigger play later, it'd be more worth his time. But the way it was, it was not a big role at all. As you can see." 

We Can Be Heroes is currently killing it on Netflix, immediately breaking into the streaming service's Top 10. If enough people tune in, perhaps Lautner can make a return in a proper Sharkboy and Lavagirl sequel down the line.