With Reginald the Vampire, Spider-Man breakout Jacob Batalon is making his mark on TV
After playing scene-stealer Ned Leeds in the MCU, Jacob Batalon is putting some fangs on as the lead of Reginald the Vampire. Based on Johnny B. Truant's Fat Vampire book series, the Syfy series follows unlikely hero Reginald Andres as he stumbles into the life of the undead. He'll have to navigate girls, bullies, and the unexpected obstacles of the supernatural world. But even though he has powers, Reginald is not your typical hero.
"It's a very powerful message to see someone like me, an Asian American – specifically a Filipino-American – be a lead of a series," Batalon says.
Playing the lead isn't the only thing that excites Batalon about the new project. "We sort of turn vampire tropes on their head," he explains. Yes, the vampires will be beautiful and vain, as we've seen before, but Reginald the Vampire uses that as a source of humor. It also puts body positivity at the center of its story. "I love that we truly make sure that we let people know that we're poking fun at those people, that the real story is about Reginald and not vampirism," he says.
Batalon, who read the first two books when he was offered the role, sees the television adaptation as a better reflection of the stigmas and stereotypes of today's society. "It's an uplifting series about how society judges people by the way they look," he says.
It's also a very bloody series, which required a lot of technical work. Batalon had to get used to a blood-gushing apparatus being strapped to his body, not to mention the sugary corn syrup that served as the blood. "After a while, I'm not going to lie, the taste of the sweet blood literally made me want to throw up, but it was definitely worth it," he shares. The blood may have gotten old, but the fangs never did. "Having fangs made me feel really cool! It felt as if I actually had superpowers," he says. Once he got the hang of talking with them in his mouth, that is.
Looking back on the first bloody scene he shot, Batalon remembers a cold Vancouver night for the scene where Reginald turns. "I was covered in blood, and it was gushing out of my body. It felt so unreal. Pretending to be dead was unbelievable, and it was my first taste of what was to come," he recalls.
Not only is Reginald the Vampire Batalon's first series regular role, but he is also an executive producer on the series. He had to learn to do double duty while dealing with the faster speed of television. "You're always thinking about how to make sure that the story makes sense and how everything comes together," he says about producing. "It's changed my perspective on what it's like to be working constantly and being a source of competence for others because they look to you to be their leader."
In the end, for Batalon, it was all worth it to tell Reginald's story. "Reginald is a person who can be overlooked as just another person, and people don't really care to look behind the curtain," Batalon says. "The fact that he has been judged by people and has gone through all these negative things in his life puts him in a place where he has accepted his fate."
Reginald the Vampire premieres October 5 on Syfy.
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