1 of 5 | Kellan Lutz stars in "Due Justice." Photo courtesy of Saban Films
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Kellan Lutz plays a desperate father trying to rescue his daughter from the gang that killed his wife and brother in Due Justice, in theaters and video-on-demand Friday.
Lutz, 38, said Due Justice is the first time he's played a father since his daughter, Ashtyn, was born in 2021.
"Having a daughter who looks just like my daughter in this movie, it just pulls at your gut strings," Lutz told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "It just sort of erupts."
Lutz said he needed to check in with his wife, Brittany, and Ashtyn after intense days of filming Due Justice. The couple also welcomed a son in 2022.
"I always need a little anchor to pull me back to reality," Lutz said. "I call my wife, FaceTime her, I'm like, 'How is Ashtyn? She's doing good?'"
Family has dictated changes in Lutz's acting career. He left the CBS series FBI: Most Wanted, which filmed in New York, after two seasons so they could be closer to their extended family in Nashville.
"I'm a family man and I want my daughter to have the most amazing memories with the family, especially the older ones, while they're still alive," Lutz said. "I know I'll always work and God will provide. And he has."
Lutz said movie productions either allow Brittany and Ashtyn to come on location with him, or are short enough that he can return home quickly.
"I love my [FBI] character, but I love my family more," Lutz said.
Family life also changed Lutz's physicality, he said. He played a hunky vampire in the Twilight franchise and the mythological hero in The Legend of Hercules, but said his Due Justice character is more like an everyman.
"When you have kids, you're eating their snacks all the time," Lutz said. "I'll always be the bigger guy, but I wanted to play just the normal dad."
Due Justice still allows Lutz to play the action hero, and he said his latest film required less complex choreography than many of his other action roles.
"This one, I just kill people," Lutz said. "There's not much fighting. It's just, 'Hey, you hurt my family, I'm going to hurt you and end you.'"
It was much easier than Hercules, Lutz said, which demanded even more than fitness and fight training. Hercules filmed in Sofia, Bulgaria, under challenging conditions.
"I worked my butt off on Hercules getting into shape, learning Bulgarian so I can speak to the horses, riding the horse wearing 50 pounds of armor and a lion cape -- and then rain coming on you so you're drenched -- holding a massive sword," Lutz said.
"It was the hardest I've ever worked for a role and the most rewarding as well because it's fun to work hard. It pays off."
In addition to drawing on his own family, Lutz said music also helped him get into character. Lutz said he uses playlists for each character, and the rap music of NF helped him for Due Justice.
"It's the beat, it's the lyrics, it's the music behind it all," Lutz said. "When you're going to kick butt, it's nice to have that going in your ear."
Lutz said he still attends fan conventions for Twilight with cast members Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone and sometimes Peter Facinelli. He said those appearances remain as well-attended as ever.
Lutz also said the audience appreciates the spirit of the vampire love stories.
"They're funny movies, man -- the faces that Kristen [Stewart] and Rob[ert Pattinson] make, like he's going to vomit because she smells so enticing and she's like what the heck?"
Lutz said he attended one screening with a live orchestral accompaniment recently, but he and Greene were still so recognizable that they had to leave before being swarmed.
"There was an intermission," Lutz said. "The lights turned on and people were like, 'Is that Ashley and Kellan? Oh my God.' When the lights went back down for the second part of it, we had to sneak out of there because it was stealing away from the movie."