Remember when Taylor Lautner met with Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black for dinner last month? A writer, a director and an actor at a table together can only mean one thing—they’re working together. Or, at least Lautner and Van Sant are. The Hollywood Reporter just announced that they’re setting up a project together, based on a New Yorker article Lautner’s production company optioned. The announcement regarding the writer should be coming soon—who wants to bet it’s Black?

This is a good move for Lautner. Abduction didn’t impress anyone in September and since winning the lottery with Twilight in 2008, Lautner has signed on to a string of dumb action movies. Stretch Armstrong: The Movie? Seriously? But now Lautner is doing a 180 and is pursuing arty work with top directors, putting himself on the path Leonardo DiCaprio used to recreate his career after being branded a teen heartthrob. I don’t have the same faith in Lautner’s talent that I do in DiCaprio’s, but it can’t hurt him to work with the best behind the camera talent. If nothing else, we’ll see what Taylor Lautner is made of.

The downside is that Lautner hasn’t fired his dad-ager yet. His father is still a partner in Taylor’s production company and Daddy Lautner is working on developing projects for his son. We’ve all observed Lautner’s robotic public persona—over managed, over produced. He’s a genuinely nice kid but the tight rein his dad has on him and his career is stifling. Hopefully this deal with Van Sant signifies that some breathing room is being allowed into Lautner’s career. Now if we can just get him some friends his own age.

(Lainey: considering this kid can’t put his hand in his pocket in a scene without over-thinking it, I’m now wondering is Gus Van Sant is somehow able to perform talent transplants like hairplugs. Because, um, it’s a long, long leap between Abduction and My Own Private Idaho.)

Attached - Lautner on The Tonight Show last night.