Spider Man: No Way Home star Jacob Batalon has opened up about spotlighting the experience of “being someone who’s not conventionally beautiful” in his upcoming Syfy series Reginald the Vampire.
Batalon, who stars and exec produces the 10-parter, has been in Cannes this week promoting the show at Mip TV to global buyers. He told Deadline attacking social stigmas and smashing tropes are key to the show’s message.
“We spoke about the underlying message right at the start and talked about the experience of being a ‘not pretty’ person. That gave me such an incentive,” said Batalon, who starred in three Spider Man movies as Ned Leeds and also appeared in two Avengers pics.
Distributed by Cineflix Rights, Reginald the Vampire is based on Johnny B. Truant’s Fat Vampire novels and follows the protagonist, who discovers he has unrecognized powers.
With Twin Peaks’ Harley Peyton as show-runner and Shadowhunters’ Jeremiah Chechik as director, the show, which is intended as a returning series, follows Reginald as he navigates a world in which he can’t be with the girl he loves and is being bullied at work. It also stars Mandela Van Peebles (Mayor of Kingstown) and Em Haine (Fargo).
Batalon said there are few supernatural dramedies out there of the same ilk.
“We’re trying to make our own path so weren’t really inspired by anything,” he said. “What we wanted to do is turn vampire tropes on their head and not take ourselves too seriously.”
Batalon envisages multiple global networks being interested in acquiring the series, as it exhibits global themes and also satisfies the current penchant for diverse programming.
Being an exec producer on the show allowed Batalon to realize a vision of having a diverse cast and crew and he opened up about feeling part of the industry’s “narrative of diversity” since breaking out in the Marvel movies.
“Diverse actors have been so accustomed to reading things written by white people that make us feel not included,” he added. “But now writers have become more diverse and this has become a whole movement. We’re seeing Zendayah get major roles in Spider Man movies.”
“It feels like our time,” he added. “Not just for people of color but for the gay community as well. We’re tired of hearing the same stories from the same people.”
Batalon was full of praise for Marvel creators Steve Ditko and the late Stan Lee for welcoming the movies’ diverse casting, even when facing backlash from angry fans of the original comics.
He described the experience of both exec producing and acting as “seeing into two different worlds” and this drove him to place heavy focus on the wellbeing of the crew.
“Sometimes we forget in the grand scheme of things that this is just a job, especially when there is pressure with Covid and having a lower budget,” he added. “I wanted to recognize that we are all human and shouldn’t treat each other like props and tools.”
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