The world is in the grip of vampire and werewolf fever as the characters from the Twilight tetralogy return to the big screen. Based on the bestselling books by Stephenie Meyer, about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, the second film in the New Moon series earned a record-breaking $258.8 million around world in just three days. As we prepare for its debut here in South Africa, Mambaonline presents our selection of the hottest talent from the hit film.

Alex Meraz – Paul

Playing Paul, a member of the “wolf pack”, Alex Meraz makes quite an impact in New Moon, in no small part due to his smoking hot body and impressive physical presence. Like his character, Arizona-born Alex also has a Native American heritage (Purepecha, First Nation of Michoacan, Mexico). This 24 year old multi-faceted performer and artist is an actor, dancer, martial artist and stunt man, not to mention being an avid painter and illustrator. Highly sought after in the indigenous dance world, he’s performed around the world. His first feature film appearance was in Terrence Malick’s film The New World, in which he played “a warrior”, starred Colin Farrell and Christian Bale.

Being relatively new to international stardom, Alex said that he is bemused by the antics of Twilight fans: “I did [an appearance] in Miami and we had, like, three girls who threw up because they were screaming so loud for us! I was like, ‘wow’ I didn’t even know that was physically possible. That’s when you know you made it!” he told OK. Alex is married to his Vietnamese-American wife, Kim, with whom he has a son. It’s unclear if Alex will continue acting after the next Twilight film, but he already has something else lined up: “I hope to have a gallery opening next year. That’s my New Year’s resolution,” he said.

Kellan Lutz – Emmett Cullen

Kellan (24) is one of hottest new talents to emerge in Hollywood. We have yet to see him really flex his acting chops, so for now he remains known mainly as eye candy. Sadly, this model and actor is barely seen in New Moon, in which he plays the role of Emmett, one of the Cullen vampires. And, despite being one of the hunkiest men around, he tragically remains fully-clothed in the film. Kellan was born in North Dakota, and started modelling when he was 13 years old. He began studying chemical engineering and considered becoming a Navy SEAL before settling on acting. He gets his stunning body from weight training and a seemingly endless list of sports. He’s been playing hunks and jocks on TV in numerous guest roles for years and has appeared in a few minor feature films, including the 2008 horror Prom Night.

Kellan recently refuted suggestions that he was romantically involved with co-star Peter Facinelli when a picture of two men holding hands turned up. “It’s the naked (photo) of us in the bubble bath that would really get us in trouble,” he laughed. A self-confessed horror fan, Kellan will appear in next year’s Nightmare on Elm Street remake, playing – you guessed it – a high school jock. Whether his career consists of simply looking gorgeous or moves into a more serious realm remains to be seen. Either way, we’ll keep watching.

Peter Facinelli – Dr. Carlisle Cullen

He may look bleached with all that white vampire makeup and awful yellow hair, but, trust us, Peter Facinelli (35), who was born and raised in New York, is one hot thespian. He plays Carlisle Cullen, the patriarch of the Cullen vampire clan in New Moon. This, in essence, makes him Robert Pattinson’s character’s (ahem) daddy. You may have seen him on TV in Damages and in Six Feet Under. He’s also appeared in the films The Scorpion King and Riding in Cars with Boys, starring Drew Barrymore. If you want to see more of Peter, and by that we mean his very appealing naked butt, then get the b-grad sci-fi flick Supernova.

Speaking to People magazine, Peter explained the appeal of vampires and the Twilight movies. “The hunger of wanting someone so much that you can taste them is very intimate, beautiful and romantic. It’s a metaphor [for sex].” He is married to actress Jennie Garth (Beverly Hills, 90210) and they have three daughters. When the photo showing Peter holding hands with fellow Twilight actor Kellan Lutz appeared on the internet, Peter laughed off suggestions of a romance saying the picture was just a joke: “We were coming off a plane in April and the paparazzi were all over us so we were just being goofy. If they wanted a circus, we were going to give them a good show,” he said.

Robert Pattinson – Edward Cullen

There’s not much to say about 23 year old Robert Pattinson that hasn’t already been said. His starring role in the first Twilight movie turned him into an international sex symbol overnight. Before that he was best known for playing Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This London-born actor started modelling when he was 12: “When I first started I was quite tall and looked like a girl, so I got lots of jobs, because it was during that period where the androgynous look was cool. Then, I guess, I became too much of a guy, so I never got any more jobs. I had the most unsuccessful modelling career.” He performed in amateur stage productions before being noticed by an acting agent.

Before Twilight was released, Robert landed the role of Salvador Dali in the film Little Ashes, in which his character smooches gay poet Federico Garcia Lorca (Javier Beltrán). He said that he was nervous about watching his performance in the film but added that, “Dalí and Lorca’s sex scenes were in fact the best scenes”. Robert plays the guitar and writes his own music, with two of his songs featured on the Twilight soundtrack. He is rumoured to be in a romantic relationship with New Moon co-star Kristen Stewart, which he has denied. Robert is so closely associated with the Twilight franchise it will be interesting to see if he can successfully extend his career into other roles. He will next be seen in the romantic drama Remember Me.

Taylor Lautner – Jacob Black

While Robert Pattinson was the breakout star in the first Twilight film, New Moon will undoubtedly be Taylor Lautner’s movie. The 17 year old actor only had four scenes in Twilight and he was nearly replaced with another actor before filming started on the sequel. Producers were concerned that Taylor didn’t have the aggressive streak and the buff body required for the role of a werewolf. In response, he threw himself into hardcore gym training and emerged on the other side as a hunk of a man (well, perhaps a hunk of a boy). We’re pleased to report that the filmmakers’ made the right call by keeping him onboard. It’s a startling transformation and we’ll eat our hats if you don’t fall for his charms in New Moon. (It’s very easy to forget that young Taylor is technically jailbait).

Born in Michigan, and boasting some Native American ancestry, Taylor is not only an actor but an accomplished martial artist (at age 11, he was ranked No. 1 in the

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