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For Taylor Lautner, the Twilight franchise sometimes felt too successful. The screaming fans, the countless camera flashes in his face anytime he went, well, anywhere was too much for him to take while it was happening, to the point that he didn't visit a grocery store, a movie theater or a mall for 10 years.
"It felt like freedom" to go back, he told Jason Kennedy on Thursday's edition of Today. "I went so many years, like, either not leaving my house, or, if I did, you know, hat, sunglasses… like, scared. It built up something inside of me where, where… I didn't know it, but I was scared to go out. I'd get super anxious to go out. So I just didn't."
A few years ago, he would have said that he wished he hadn't even gone through it.
"But if you ask me now, I say, 'No. I am, I'm happy because of what it’s taught me. It’s made me who I am right now. For that, I'm, I'm thankful."
The painful part, he recalled, was struggling to keep any part of his life just for him.
"I was 16, 17, 18 years old, waking up and trying to just go out for a walk or, you know, go on a date and... I have 12 cars waiting outside my house to follow me wherever I'm going or, you know, when you show up to an airport or anywhere and you have thousands of fans screaming," Lautner said. "In the moment, it's like, it got frustrating. Because you just wanted to live a normal life."
And yet, when all the madness began to fade — the final film in the franchise, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, was released in 2012 — he kind of missed it.
"When that's taken away from you at all, you start to… you start to question yourself, and start to be, like, 'Oh, do people not care about me anymore?'" he said. "When it goes away a little bit, you notice it, and that's, that's the dangerous part, because that can really mess with your mind."
Lautner lived with his parents and spent some time away from Hollywood in the years to come. He's since been in a short list of projects, including TV's Scream Queens, in 2016. Now he's back with a new Netflix movie, Home Team, and a new fiancée, who happens to share his first name.
"[The time] was needed for me personally," Lautner said. "So I, Taylor, feel so much better today than I have in the last four or five years."