The group – Chaske Spencer, 34, Alex Meraz, 24, Kiowa Gordon, 19, and Bronson Pelletier, 23 – join Taylor Lautner, 17, as he returns as Jacob Black for the sequel, due out Nov. 20.
Because the characters belong to the Quileute tribe, based in La Push, Wash., the film's director, Chris Weitz, has insisted on authenticity. "They had to have papers that proved their heritage," Weitz, who hired actors with Native American or First Nation ancestry, tells USA Today. "And they had to be in good physical shape."
Not to mention possessing the ability to work half-naked in the chilly Vancouver, B.C., area, where the film has been shooting for several weeks. "They have all been good-natured," says Weitz. "They show up on location in drenching, cold rain, and I say, 'Okay, off with the robes.' "
Disrobing for a romp through the woods as Sam Uley, the pack's alpha male, is New York-based Spencer. His Native American heritage is Lakota Sioux. Meraz, from Mesa, Ariz., plays Paul – the most volatile wolf-shifter – and boasts a Purepecha heritage.
Fitzroy Barrett / Landov
So they have buff physiques, but what about becoming wolves for the film? The transformations are computer-generated – the beasts are the size of horses and race around on all fours – but one part of each wolf will be familiar.
"They all have the actor's eyes," Weitz says.