Teenage girls may moon over Kellan Lutz as vampire Emmett Cullen in the Twilight saga — the penultimate installment, Breaking Dawn Part 1, premieres November 18 — but it’s his racy Calvin Klein underwear campaign and his oft-photographed shirtless workouts that really get gay men’s blood pumping. Also playing the god Poseidon in Immortals, which is in theaters November 11, the 26-year-old heartthrob opens up about being worshipped.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: I’m not much of a Twihard, but I’ve been a fan of yours since HBO’s The Comeback in 2005.
Kellan Lutz: I love that! Brandon, you’re the shit. Thank you.
What did you take away from that experience?
I loved working on The Comeback, but I faked that whole experience. I was just a happy-go-lucky kid who fell into acting. I was going to college at Orange County’s Chapman University for chemical engineering. I met this checkout lady at Ralph’s named Maria and, long story short, she said that I should be an actor and opened up my eyes to the world of acting. I started taking acting classes, auditioning, doing extra work, and I fell in love with acting. I didn’t even notice Lisa Kudrow in the room when I did my last callback for The Comeback, because I didn’t watch TV, but I was bouncing off the walls with energy. I just thank them all for giving me a chance. It opened so many doors for me.
Michael Patrick King, the co-creator of the series, has taken credit for discovering you. What did you learn from him?
I quickly learned that there’s a lot of insecurity and a lot of sharks in Hollywood, but I saw that Michael Patrick King, who’s a genius, still has the same passion and zeal he’s had from day one. That’s what I look forward to in my own career. I love acting, but I always want to view it as a hobby and not a job.
You star as Poseidon in Immortals. Has playing a god gone to your head?
Nah. I’ve been playing a pale vampire for years, so I’m just glad to finally have a tan in a movie. I love that our director, Tarsem, saw the gods as youthful. If you were a god, wouldn’t you rather be in your 20s or 30s as opposed to old and gray with a beard down to your ankles?
Your gay fans will appreciate the sexier vision.
Oh, they’re the best. I love them. When I meet gay fans out and about, they’re so great to talk to — and I’m big on hugging, because I’m from the Midwest. They’re just so energetic and loving. I’m proud to have those fans, and their support means a lot to me. I don’t want just girls coming to my movies; I want guys to come too.
In your Calvin Klein X underwear commercial, when you look at the camera and cockily say things like, “You can look, but no touching,” it does feel like you’re speaking directly and specifically to gay men.
I’m so glad you said that. When they pitched that concept, I was all for it. That whole commercial was about speaking to everyone and grabbing every audience member that we could, so I’m glad we captured that.
You once told a story on Ellen about a male fan that approached you at a spa while you were naked in a hot tub. You didn’t specify, but I assume he was gay.
Probably, yeah. That’s why I was so flattered. We talked for about 15 minutes, and it clicked that he was probably hitting on me. By no means did I want to lead him on, so it was just kind of funny to me to realize that he was hitting on me — and doing a pretty good job.
Were you aware of gay admirers when you landed the cover of A&F Quarterly at 18?
No, but I was really ignorant. Growing up, I could never tell who was gay. Even in high school, I had friends that I didn’t know were gay until years later. I’d find out on Facebook or something and be like, “Oh, that explains some things,” or “Wow, no wonder they were so cool.” I remember going to a buddy’s house right when I came to L.A. He was showing me his place, and I asked, “Where do you sleep?” He’s like, “Here, in this bed.” He had a roommate, so I was like, “Where does your roommate sleep?” He said, “He sleeps here too.” I was like, “Oh, OK.” I’ve slept in the same bed as my brothers, and I’ve crashed on a friend’s bed, so it did not even cross my mind that they were gay. He called me up after I left his house and said, “Kellan, you handled that so well. I haven’t told many people, so thanks for being such a good person.” Suddenly, all this stuff started clicking, and everything made sense: Some guys I thought were just friends aren’t just friends! That’s the day my gaydar finally kicked in. We’re still the best of friends to this day. Now I have some really close friends who are gay.
Do they alert you when photos of you working out shirtless get posted on the gay blogs?
No, but they will be like, “Ooh, your arms are looking good, Kellan,” “Ooh, your big chest,” or “Gosh, those eyes.” They hit on me in a friendly way. Anyway, I love a topless run by the beach, and it does suck when paparazzi is there. It’s like, “Fuck, do I keep my shirt on because I don’t want to be shirtless in another magazine?” I don’t want to be known as the guy who always takes his shirt off.
Do you worry about your looks upstaging your talent and not being taken seriously?
Well, sure. I think all actors have to be mindful of that. But in the end, it’s a business. It’s great to have the platform to go do independent movies or a fun comedy where I can keep my shirt on, but sometimes sex sells. If me taking my shirt off can get the audience in there, then sure, I don’t mind doing that. But it’s tough, because I don’t just want to be beefcake.
What about your shirtless photo shoots? It seems like you’d have more control over those.
Yeah, I have to be conscious of that too. I’ve done a lot of photo shoots lately for the press coming up with Immortals and Breaking Dawn, and every photographer wants to get the topless shot. We’ve really had to be choosy and not do that for every magazine. I’ve actually been trying to keep my clothes on more.
This wouldn’t be an issue if you just got really fat for a role.
Hey, I would love that. It would be so fun to lose weight or gain weight to play a role that’s so outside of me.
There are paparazzi shots of you and your Twilight costar Peter Facinelli holding hands, which showed a sense of humor about your public image.
Oh, it’s funny. Peter’s great to look up to. He’s like a father figure to me. He’s young, but he’s been in this industry for a long time, so it’s great to go to him for counsel. What do they call Peter and I — Pellan? Pellan for life!
Do you not worry about gay rumors?
I don’t Google myself, but I’ve heard that people think I’m gay. I’ve heard it all. See, I don’t really go after girls. Most of the girlfriends I’ve had have come after me. So it’s really funny when girls get offended because I don’t hit on them. They’ll transform their insecurity into, “Oh, that makes sense, because I heard you’re into guys and have a boyfriend.” I’m like, “Seriously? That’s your tactic to get me to like you?” There will always be rumors, but I know who I am.
Director Bill Condon brought his wonderful gay sensibility to films like Dreamgirls, Kinsey, and Gods and Monsters. Taking over the Twilight saga for its final installments, has he brought a gay sensibility or gay undertones to Breaking Dawn?
Oh, definitely. I mean, there’s a lot more skin, first of all. It’s for a more mature audience. Our audience has grown up with us, and we have to grow along with them. The original high school fans are in college now, and they want to see more skin. Bill has Taylor Lautner topless all the time, so there’s some great eye-candy. Bill did such an amazing job, and it was so much fun to work with him.
But would it have killed him to sneak in a gay vampire or a gay werewolf?
We have so many cast members in the movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the characters was gay and I just didn’t know it. I’d be all for it.
You made a video for the Love is Louder campaign, which was created in response to teen suicides connected with antigay bullying. After revealing that you grew up feeling alone, you say, “Jesus was always there. Jesus is love, and love is louder.” How did your religious beliefs affect your views on gay people?
I was raised in a Christian family, and I’m a Christian, but the only commandment that I really live by is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It doesn’t matter who a person is or what they’re into, you just show them love. If they’re happy, be happy for them. Be a believer, have faith in something, but no one’s right or wrong. Just be a good person. If we were all just one loving world, stuff would be so much easier.
You appeared as the man-candy in Hilary Duff’s “With Love” video. Why did you turn down the chance to star opposite Britney Spears in her “I Wanna Go” video?
That was really tough. I love Britney, and I would’ve loved the opportunity, but there were a couple of weird things about the part that didn’t make sense — like that milk-pouring scene? Hopefully I’ll get to work with Britney on something else. Back to the Hilary Duff video, that was one of those things where I was like, “This isn’t me. I’m not this good-looking guy who’s going to book this.” It’s funny, because when I don’t think I’m right for something, I end up booking it. It baffled me that I even got a callback for that.
How is it possible that you’re not a part of Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie about male strippers? You might want to call your agent.
I actually did call about that. They got Alex Pettyfer for the role I would’ve been right for, and there wasn’t really another role for me in it. But it’s got a great cast, and I think it’s going to be well received. Channing Tatum’s story is amazing, and it’s very ballsy for him to tell it.
You’ve mentioned your roommates in various interviews, and you once told Jimmy Kimmel an anecdote about an unfortunately worded Craigslist ad for new roommates that accidentally attracted a bunch of gay guys. Would a house full of gay roomies really be such a bad thing?
Honestly, I’d prefer to live with gay guys. They’re the cleanest, and they just take care of stuff. Because I’m always away, coming home to a clean house means a lot to me. Trust me, I’ve lived with a lot of roommates, and straight guys are just kids who don’t pick up after themselves.
The Advocate, November 2011 issue; extended online version.