Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Spider-Man's Jacob Batalon On Playing An Underdog Bloodsucker In Reginald The Vampire - Exclusive Interview

We tend to think of vampires in movies and TV — from Dracula himself to Lestat in "Interview with the Vampire" to Angel in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — as sensual creatures who exert a magnetic pull over their victims, even as they drain them of their blood. In pop culture, vampires are expected to have lithe, attractive exteriors that hide how dangerous they truly are. Then there's the title character of Syfy's "Reginald the Vampire." Brought to endearing life by Jacob Batalon, best known for playing Ned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Spider-Man" movies, Reginald is nothing like your average vamp.

A long-time employee of the Slushy Shack, where he harbors an unspoken crush on co-worker Sarah (Em Haine), Reginald isn't the kind of person who makes that much of an impression. He isn't sexy, he isn't outgoing, and he isn't self-confident, but he is a really nice guy if you take the time to get to know him. And that remains the case even after he's turned into a vampire. 

"Reginald the Vampire" satirizes pop culture's typical take on vampires while also showing how an average person like Reginald deals with navigating the deadly underground world of the undead while simultaneously attempting to pursue the life he wants. In the process, Reginald realizes that even though he may not look like most vampires, there are other things that make him special. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Batalon discussed why the show resonated with him, how he feels about playing supernatural characters in both "Reginald the Vampire" and the "Spider-Man" films, and if there's a possibility his MCU character, Ned, could become a full-fledged sorcerer.

Trying something different with 'underdog story' Reginald the Vampire

You've worked on a lot of movies in your career, but "Reginald the Vampire" is the first TV show you've done. What made you want to commit to this show?

I've wanted to try something different, and this was a great opportunity to do so, and I enjoyed the project itself. If it wasn't so interesting and weird and quirky and zany, I probably wouldn't have done it. That played a lot into why I like it.

It seems like there are two kinds of people on the show: the people that love Reginald because they get to know him [and] the people that judge a book by its cover. Is that something that spoke to you personally?

Being someone who was very overweight from a very young age and being bullied for the way I looked, I would say that it was something I absolutely grew up with. I find that sort of underdog story [with Reginald] is relatable [for] everyone. He's really charming in that he's self-aware but doesn't want to do anything about it, but then that makes him an unlikely hero. He's very much everyone's embodiment of what insecurity is. He shares a shared human journey with social acceptance and finding love and all these things.

Playing supernatural characters and teasing what's next for Reginald

You play a budding sorcerer in the "Spider-Man" movies, and now you're playing a vampire, with everything that requires. They're pretty unconventional things to do.

I would say so. It's a really big realm of make-believe that people don't get to play in a lot. It's very interesting.

I've always wondered, do you ever have a hard time committing to these really unusual supernatural things these characters do?

It's so funny that you say that because I find that playing Reginald embodies our real human reaction to hearing [about] vampires. He's like, "Vampires? That's total bulls***. That's all a story. That's not real." That helps me because that's how I feel in real life. It's so unbelievable sometimes that your most basic instinct is to be like, "What the hell? This is so not real. What is happening here?" The writing really lends itself to that dichotomy, for sure.

Is it ever something where, as an actor, you're biting someone's neck and go, "Oh my gosh, did I take this too far?"

Yeah. "What in my life did I choose to get to this point? What in my career drove me to the point of, 'Wow, I'm really putting my mouth on my friend's neck today. I'm biting his neck with my fake vampire teeth.'" You're like, "Yeah, I guess we're doing that today." Just another day.

Is there anything you can tease that we can expect as Reginald's journey continues to unfold this season?

A lot of first episodes for a lot of shows do a lot of groundwork, where they do a lot of explaining. After Episodes 1 and 2, we really start going with the story, and it gets unbelievably crazy and twisted and so fun.

People won't see any of these things coming, especially with a lot of the relationships that are going to be coming along soon with other cast members. It'll be really crazy to watch, for sure.

Reflecting on Ned's chances as a sorcerer in the MCU

In "Spider-Man: No Way Home," we saw Ned dabble in the mystic arts. Is there a chance that we'll see him being guided by Dr. Strange or Wong? Do you think he'll go to Kamar-Taj?

That'd be a great, really, really fun thing to try. That'd be a fun story to play. I don't really know where I would go with it. I love Benny Wong [who plays Wong] so much for coming up with that idea, and I would love to do that with him.

Personally, I like where Ned's at. I feel like he's pretty "whatever happens, happens." With that being said, I absolutely would be open to any opportunity that they would offer me, or — whatever happens, happens.

Do you think he'd do well as a sorcerer?

Maybe. It's all new territory for Ned, and I feel like he wasn't really going [down] that path. I feel like that was just something that happened circumstantially. It's not that bad. He might be decent at it.

The fun of playing both Ned and Reginald

Reginald and Ned are very different characters. Reginald is shyer and doesn't go for things, whereas Ned is much more out there and very confident. Do you enjoy playing characters that contrast in so many ways?

Yeah. Ned is this blissfully ignorant character, and he's unbelievably loved [in] that sense. Reginald [is] socially awkward, and I feel like that's a really cool thing about him. I enjoy the fact that he's comfortable in his position no matter who's around, except [his crush] Sarah. That's really interesting. It's a fun bit to be going through the human nature vibes, examining the human condition, how we act around the bully and your new friend and your surrogate little sister and the person you have a crush on. It's definitely a different energy.

"Reginald the Vampire" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.

This interview has been edited for clarity.