Kellan Lutz
Credit: Getty

On Welcome Back Wednesday we celebrate the return of a beloved pop culture player who’s been off the radar for a while. Where’d they go? It doesn’t matter! We’re just glad they’re back.

Back in 2008, Kellan Lutz was everywhere. The then 23-year-old actor got his big break portraying vampire Emmett Cullen in Twilight, starring alongside Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in the box office mega-hit. Needless to say, the TwiHards couldn’t get enough. And for years, the group made appearances at every major star-studded Hollywood event. When the fantasy series wrapped four films later in 2012, Lutz went on to land roles in action films, starring opposite Bruce Willis in Extraction and alongside Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford in The Expendables 3.

For his latest project, Lutz takes on the part of escaped prisoner Sy Lombrok in The Osiris Child, a sci-fi action drama set in a future world of interplanetary colonization. Lutz’s character in the film (in theaters Oct. 6th) is in full-on crisis mode while trying to help save his planet from annihilation—but physical hurdles aside, it’s inner turmoil that drew Lutz to the part. "I love playing the hero and driving fast cars and shooting guns and fighting people, but it's great to switch it up. This was unique, because it was more of a drama with layers of hopelessness and faithfulness in many of the characters, mine included. I'm really proud of it.”

Here, Lutz dishes about growing up in the spotlight, staying in touch with his Twilight co-stars, and scoring an invite to John Travolta’s house for family dinner.

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Credit: Sean O'Reilly

You filmed The Osiris Child in Australia. What was your favorite thing about working there?

I love traveling, and I love Australia. We got to shoot some of the scenes in [the opal capital of the world] Coober Pedy, and that place was just so uniquely bizarre. I had no perception of what Coober Pedy was—I had never even heard of it. I was fascinated by the beauty of the desert out there, and we saw all the opal fields and the mining. I also have so many friends in Australia, so I love vacationing there. Whenever I can work in Australia, I jump on the opportunity.

VIDEO: Robert Pattinson was Almost Fired from Twilight

Your character, Sy, escaped from prison. Now, he’s trying to help a lieutenant rescue his young daughter as their planet succumbs to chaos. Do you have anything in common with him?

I’m definitely not like him, and that was the draw. I have a lot of hope in my life and I'm a man of faith, so to play a character who loses all hope and has to function between the lines of taking his own life and persevering and pushing through was definitely a challenge. If I ever had a wife and child and I lost them like he did, I don't know if I would snap. I also don't know if I wouldn't snap, like he did. It's a tough situation to be in, and you really need to have a lot of self-control. If you don't believe in something outside of yourself, and you’ve lost it all, what's the point of living anymore? It definitely makes you question some things, and then pray that it never happens to you.

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Credit: Sean O'Reilly

It's been almost a decade since you filmed the first Twilight. What's changed for you, personally, over the past 10 years?

During the Twilight years, people would tell you who you should be, where you should be, and what kind of career you should have—and you just can't get lost in that. As Twilight dwindled down, [I] could at times be left questioning what was next. I've been very grateful to have a supportive family and an authentic group of friends who can call me out on my bulls—t and be there as my support system. So for me, that season didn't last that long. I look at everything I've done as a gift from god, and I’m grateful for all that's come.

I remember being on the set of my film Stick It years ago, and Jeff Bridges told me, “You have to create a life outside of the industry versus creating your life in the industry.” The industry's always changing, so if you can find happiness outside of it, then you have a foundation, an anchor, and a reality when times are slow or super hectic—and you're gonna function just fine.

Do you feel like you’ve achieved that, personally?

I've gone through years where I did four movies and a show, but then in this last year I've only done one movie. I'm so focused and grateful in my life, and I have so much other stuff going on that I'm ready whenever an opportunity comes. But I'm not sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the opportunity. I'm creating my own life that is sustainable and full of enjoyment. I think my attitude has been the biggest change over the years. I've always been appreciative—not worrying about the future, but looking back at the past and just being grateful for everything that I’ve done and all the amazing memories.

I do wish I could talk to my younger self, especially during the Twilight years, and say, "Really enjoy this." Because when you're in it, you don't realize that it's such a special moment in life. It's such a fan-favorite kind of franchise—it's unlike anything else, really. So you don't have anyone who could really be like, “Yo dude, really enjoy these five movies. Enjoy all the press moments. Just soak it all in.” I think all of us were so wide-eyed. We were like, “Oh yeah, this is something.” But I didn't capture it enough. I didn't enjoy the moment.

Kellan Lutz
Credit: Lester Cohen/Getty

Do you remember the first time that you realized how big of a deal Twilight was and that you were famous?

Yeah. We were shooting at this random location in Portland, I think it was, and we had fans on the set. One of them even brought a baby, and it was freezing. We were like, “Are you guys working on the movie?” And they said, “No, we're fans. We love you, Kellan! We love you, Nikki!” We just didn’t get it. It was the first time I'd ever worked on something that we had fans coming to set—and the movie hadn't even come out yet. It hadn’t really hit me yet just how big the Twilight books were and how big these movies were gonna be. It was one of those "pinch me" moments. Then when the first movie came out, to see all the fans camping out for days just to see it, it was like, “What the heck am I a part of?” It was awesome.

Do you keep in touch with any of your Twilight co-stars?

A few of them, for the most part. It's been 10 years. Jackson [Rathbone] has kids, and Nikki [Reed], too. Ashley [Greene]’s engaged—I probably see her the most. We're all in different stages of life and adulthood, and if you have a significant other, usually they’re your best friend. Back then, some of us were fresh out of high school. Some were college age. We were in our young twenties and late teens, and so we didn't have as much life experience. But now, 10 years have passed, and you just grow up. You create life outside of the industry, as in having children or getting married.

It's definitely harder to stay connected in L.A., because it’s the place of hustle. But we still have group hangouts. Ashley has game nights, but she lives 20 miles away in the Hills. So even just getting over there really has to be intentional. When she has a game night or a dinner night, I schedule that in. But I don't go out to Hollywood events anymore—they aren't really fun for me. I just love the chill lifestyle of being by the beach and living on the Westside. So I very rarely get dressed up for a Hollywood outing, unless I have to or it’s a special moment, like the Wonder Woman premiere. I got to bring my own Wonder Woman—my mom—to that. When I do go to bigger events like night-before Oscars parties, I always look forward to seeing Rob [Pattinson] or Kristen [Stewart], and I pop in to see Anna Kendrick, and we always joke around. But I haven't seen Taylor Lautner in forever.

One of your most recent co-stars was John Travolta. What was it like working with him on your upcoming film, Cigarette?

I’ve got to say, JT is one of my favorite actors I've ever worked with. He's just by far one of the most talented. He's done so many iconic roles. I've worked with some big-name guys who work maybe one or two days on the whole movie, and they kind of phoned it in. But JT worked every single one of 30 days on this movie. He was so professional and took everything seriously. He invited me to his house for dinner with his family, and he’s just such a loving man—really sweet and kind-hearted. It was a pleasure working with him. It was definitely one for the bucket list.

Of all your past co-stars, who would you most love to work with again?

If I could go way back, I'd say Jeff Bridges. I worked with him on my first movie, Stick It, and he's the dude. I've always seen him as a father figure, in a way. He's such a wizard. He reminds me of a rancher or a cowboy. I'd love to do another movie with him. Working with him is one of my fondest memories in the industry. And I'd also have to say Mel Gibson. He was fascinating to talk to on the set of Expendables 3. We just got into conversation. I’m a thinker, and I love just going down all the rabbit holes. The information that he was spewing out and just hearing him talk, it was fascinating. So I would love to work on another movie with him.