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Pittsburgh shines in the limelight again in action flick 'Abduction'

| Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

It's possible that this summer at PNC Park might be remembered not as "the year the Buccos actually seemed good until the All-Star break," but as the year Taylor Lautner jumped off the pedestrian rotunda to escape the bad guys in the new movie "Abduction."

That's assuming, of course, that moviegoers buy the young Lautner as an action star — or something other than a teenage werewolf, the role that rocketed him to superstardom in the "Twilight" film adaptations. The movie, shot in Pittsburgh last summer and opening nationwide next Friday, features Lautner as a high schooler who discovers his picture on a missing-persons website, realizes his whole life is a lie, and there are people out there who want him dead.

It's a risk selling Lautner as an action hero, since his fanbase seems to be mostly teen girls — as indicated by the crowd late Thursday night at the Cinemark Theatre in Monaca, where the red-carpet world premiere in Hollywood was simulcast (one of 20 locations nationwide). The giveaway t-shirts were only available in women's sizes, so aging action stars like Jason Statham and Jet Li might not have to fear competing with Lautner, just yet.

However, he does seem to have the skills required. Lautner was a champion martial artist before he got into acting, and earned his black belt before he turned 8. For "Abduction," he had to learn a few things, but not much.

"Three months before Pittsburgh, I got a boxing coach, worked on motorcycle driving and wresting," said Lautner, speaking from the red carpet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre before the premiere.

"Abduction" is the second movie to use a Pittsburgh gameday crowd in an action-escape scene, after last year's "The Next Three Days." Pittsburgh looks great in the film and easily is recognizable — from the early establishing shot of Downtown at the Point, to the climactic scenes on the North Shore.

According to the Pittsburgh Film Office, scenes were shot in Greenfield, East Liberty, Sutersville, the South Side, Monongahela, Mt. Lebanon, at Chatham University, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Allegheny Cemetery, the August Wilson Center and Fiddle's Diner in Brownsville.

Lautner's character attends Hampton High School, and wrestles in Hampton gear at a high-school wrestling match.

Denzel Whitaker, who played Lautner's best friend, recalled the Taylor Lautner fan-frenzy in Pittsburgh that was, just barely, kept to the edge of the set.

"It was so weird," said Whitaker, on the red carpet. "I've never experienced anything like this. We had 300 girls — and guys — coming out every day to catch a glimpse (of Lautner)..."

Michael Nyqvist, a Swedish actor ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") who plays the main bad guy in "Abduction," recalled living in the Strip District during the film shoot.

"I lived in the Cork Factory," Nyqvist said. "It was an older part of town. People liked to walk there, instead of use their car. It was almost like (being) in Europe."

The Pittsburgh setting of "Abduction" is apparent, even down to small details. A Terrible Towel is hanging in Lautner's character's bedroom. He wears a Clemente jersey to the game. The Clemente statue at PNC Park plays an unexpected role.

Another surprising cameo goes to the North Shore parking garage near PNC Park, which affects the outcome of the entire film.

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