Alex Meraz captivated audiences - including millions of squealing teenage girls - as snarling werewolf Paul in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (2009). The Native American actor previously appeared in television and film projects that often focused on the history and culture of his indigenous ancestors. Getting cast as the "bad boy werewolf" in the sequel to the hit 2008 vampire love story "Twilight" launched Meraz' career and exposed him mainstream audiences. Refusing to play it safe by industry standards - including doing his own stunts in "New Moon" - Meraz turned in an inspiring performance in his breakout role and took his rightful place amongst Hollywood's young leading men.
Alejandro Meraz was born on Jan. 10, 1985 in Mesa, AZ. He was a Native American Indian descendant of the Purepecha (Tarasco) Nation, indigenous people from the northwestern region of Michoacán, Mexico. Meraz, an avid painter and illustrator, attended the New School for the Arts in Tempe. He and his wife Kim, who was of Vietnamese-American descent, had a son named Somak.
The actor's Native American heritage played an immense role in his career, in that he was often cast in historically-based film and television projects. Meraz made his feature film debut in the epic drama "The New World" (2005), playing a Native American warrior opposite an A-list cast that included Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale. He was a featured dancer in the Canadian production of "Dancing with Spirit" (Bravo, 2007- ), a unique six-part series about aboriginal dancing and how it combined footwork, music and storytelling to reinterpret and preserve culture. Meraz once again played a native warrior in the PBS American Experience miniseries "We Shall Remain" (2009), a historically-based account of the European settlement of North America told from the Native American perspective.
Meraz had not yet seen the blockbuster film "Twilight," based on Stephenie Meyer's 2005 novel about a young woman (Kristen Stewart) who fell in love with a vampire (Robert Pattinson), when he was cast in its much-anticipated sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." The actor later admitted he watched a bootlegged copy of the film for the first time on the set of "New Moon." Playing hot-tempered werewolf Paul, part of the story's Quileute tribe wolf pack led by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), was the most physically demanding role Meraz had ever attempted to this point in his career. He trained eight hours a day for two days straight to perfect an intense cliff-diving scene in the film. Meraz and the rest of the wolf pack actors also rehearsed by jumping off 50-foot scaffoldings onto an air mattress because they did not want to use stunt doubles any more than necessary.
The "Twilight" fan community instantly fell in love with Meraz and considered him as one of the film franchise's leading men. The actor experienced "Twi-mania" for the first time after the number of his Twitter followers jumped into the thousands almost overnight. In November 2009, People magazine named Meraz "Sexiest Man of the Week" at the time of the sequel's release. With all the attention and hoopla surrounding his high-profile role, Meraz had little time to take a break between "New Moon" and starting production on "Eclipse" (2010), the third film in the "Twilight" saga. Meraz said he felt less pressure making "Eclipse" than "New Moon," as on the latter, he had spent the majority of his time trying to understand his character's motivations and to blend in with the already friendly cast and crew from the first film. In his first non-"Twilight" project, Meraz appeared in the coming-of-age drama "Four to the Floor" (2009), about a group of friends who take an eventful road trip before going off to college.