I find Jacob Batalon sitting in a comfortable and soft chair. He has a tired look, with a beginning of circles under his eyes, as if he hadn’t slept well. He hasn’t. He’s only been in Lisbon for an hour and has traveled all night from New York. “I just got back from Serbia, where I shot a horror movie. I think it will come out this year, I’m not sure,” he tells me.
We are in a classic and elegant hotel, old, with high ceilings and large windows, carpet on the floor and long rugs like snakes’ tongues. It’s cold in the living room, but Jacob Batalon doesn’t seem to care.. He wears a Hawaiian shirt and sports an imposing, everlasting smile. I don’t know if it’s honest or fake, if it’s humanity or work. It’s never easy to tell what an actor is really thinking.
Jacob Batalon (Honolulu, 1996) is twenty-six years old and has a promising career ahead of him. He has become famous for playing Ned Leeds, Peter Parker’s best friendin the last Spider-Man trilogy starring Tom Holland. It’s the guy in the chair. And he seems to be very proud of all the steps that have taken him there.
“I’m happy with my career,” he assures me. “I feel lucky to be in a place like this, in Lisbon, to travel all over the world and meet a lot of amazing people.” But is everyone like Jacob Batalon? “There are actors who are not satisfied with his work all the time, but I can’t not be grateful for everything that is happening to me.”
“I will never complain about anything in my career,” he continues. And is not for less. Jacob Batalon is not exactly lacking in work and his prospects for the future are just as interesting as his present. “I have another movie in New York that’s going to be at Sundance and a few things on the horizon. I’m very excited about all of them.”
Right now, I’m in Lisbon to cover the arrival of Reginald the Vampire. Is about a teen comedy television series which follows the pattern established by other recent hits like Wednesday, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and even riverdale. All of them, generational and present in the industry.
“I hope people enjoy it and have fun, and also find the deep meanings behind the comedy,” wishes Jacob Batalon. “There’s a lot for the audience to discover in Reginald the Vampire. I hope they enjoy it the way Riverdale, Sabrina and Wednesday have.”
Reginald the Vampire’s starting point is hackneyed, but effective. A worldly boy, without great abilities and little talent. “It’s a story of underdogs,” Jacob Batalon tells me. But why do we like loser stories so much? “Audience sees themselves in these characters because we’re tired of Hollywood’s high achievers.”
“I think that now we are looking for a different story and a different protagonist and Reginald is the best example of it,” defends his series. I mention the Coen brothers, experts in this type of film fiction profiles. “I would love to work with them,” she says quickly. “They are very creative and resourceful guys. I love their movies.”
But has the work of the Coens served as an influence on the program? “I think the Coens are a good example. Our showrunner has tried to put all of his characteristics into the show, like the dark comedy, the romance, the friendship aspects that we build into the story. All of that makes up the Reginald the Vampire and it’s delicious.”
However, the intention is not always materialized in the final product, although Reginald the Vampire does seem to have complied. “I am very satisfied with the result of the series,” admits Jacob Batalon. “We had a big goal, which was to make the show as different from the vampire genre as possible, and I firmly believe that there is no vampire show like it.”
Precisely, of all the monsters of audiovisual fiction, vampires have been the most benefited in terms of historical production. And Jacob Batalon is clear about his preferences. “My favorite movie is Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. and Gary Oldman”, he reveals, adding that “I also love Twilight and Luke Evans’ Untold Legend”.
I ask him if he would be the new Edward Cullen in a Twilight remake and he laughs sincerely, heartily. “It could be, although I don’t think Reginald is the profile of him,” he jokes. And that from Edward Cullen he goes to Bruce Wayne, as Robert Pattinson has shown us. When he hears it, he laughs again, this time less earnestly. Maybe he’s sick of hearing about superheroes.
I am asking you precisely for this reason. Reginald the Vampire has certain abilities in the series that make him look like a superhero. “I love the way that it’s so unique,” she admits. “There’s no vampire quite like him. However, he doesn’t know what to do with those superpowers. He’s not so much a superhero, but more of a superhuman.”
Out of respect, I don’t ask him about Spider-Man 4. I’m looking forward to it, but I bite my tongue. I am not the protagonist. Nevertheless, yes i ask about tom holland. I tell him that he has been bitten by a vampire and his friend by a spider. He laughs again with complete honesty. “I think we have a special talent for being bitten by animals,” the joke continues.
And I wonder, What would Jacob Batalon do if he were a vampire? I convey the idea to you. It takes time to respond, but finally does. “I don’t know if he would be a good vampire or a bad one,” she doubts. “I think he would be a lot like Reginald. Fortunately, no one could kill me. But I’d be horrible at foraging, so he’d end up dying on my own.”
I suggest you eat Tom Holland if you get hungry. His eyes sparkle at the prospect. He is evaluating the proposal, although he immediately shakes his head. “Is that Tom Holland is not too bigJacob Batalon reasons. “He’s very skinny, he doesn’t have much blood.” We ruled out Tom for the main course, then.
One of the curiosities at the beginning of Reginald the Vampire is that the protagonist, despite being little and having almost no talent that makes him special, does have ambition. Reginald dreams of being some kind of preacher. A new Elon Musk. I ask Jacob Batalon if he would buy Twitter like the American tycoon did.
“I don’t know too much about that stuff,” he says, grimacing. “But if I could make a good offer, I would.” Since I have it at hand, I take the opportunity to ask him about social networks. It makes me curious to know how a famous international stature lives the honey of success in a context as controversial, toxic, controversial and violent as the networks.
“Social networks are very useful”, the protagonist of Reginald the Vampire surprises me with his answer. “A lot of people connect around the world because of them, but they’re also a difficult place to be. We forget that people can have different opinions and not everyone has to agree with them.”
I urge you to keep talking, because I find it an interesting reflection. Jacob Batalon continues, encouraged by the conversation. “That creates a lot of tension,” he says. “There are all kinds of people, people who use them well and people who use them badly. I think you just have to be on social media and you have to deal with all its parts.”
To conclude, he asks about the war between cinema and streaming platforms. Exists? Is it seen the same way within the industry? “I don’t think there’s a rivalry or anything like that,” replies Jacob Batalon doubtfully.
“I think streaming is more convenient for people who want to watch their favorite series and don’t want to leave the house at that time. It’s more practical than going to the cinema to watch movies, but you can’t compare the experience of television with the of the big screen.” Reginald the Vampire premieres Thursday, January 12 on SYFY.