Cover Jacob Batalon who stars as Ned Leeds in Spider-Man: No Way Home talks to Tatler about the movie

In an exclusive interview with Tatler, Jacob Batalon talks about the cool things his character gets to do in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the future of his character and if we’re going to see a Filipino superhero anytime soon

Many know Jacob Batalon as Peter Parker’s sidekick slash best friend, Ned Leeds in the Spider-Man universe. And sure enough, that role which he nabbed through a self-taped audition made him a breakout star. Still, Batalon is ready for the next phase in his career while staying thankful. Spider-Man: No Way Home in many ways, feel like an ending of sorts. It also celebrates three generations of cinema as we see the return of the iconic villains from previous Spider-Man films.

And while many are curious where the trio of Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon will head off next, one thing’s for sure: if this is the end, they sure are going out with a bang. With the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home in Hong Kong cinemas, Tatler got the chance to speak to Batalon about Ned and the really cool things he does in this third—and perhaps—final instalment.

As a Filipino myself, I also didn’t let the chance slip to ask Batalon about the Filipino representation in the movie and if we’re ever going to see a Filipino superhero anytime soon. Batalon also teases what he thinks will be next for his character but if his answers say anything, if that he’s grateful and this isn’t the end—we’ll be seeing him in a new vampire project soon.

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Can you tell us what’s different this time around in Spider-Man: No Way Home?

The thing that’s most different about our third instalment is the scale of it. Homecoming had a sort of indie movie vibe to it, Far From Home stepped up in terms of the threat and travelling around the world, but No Way Home blows those two out of the water with the action, the emotion, the comedy. It’s everything you could want in a superhero movie.

Your character, Ned got to do some really cool stuff in this movie. How’s it like filming that?

It was such a fun experience, obviously, all the stunts we did were very new to me. There was a lot I had to learn about wirework, and just taking a risk and giving it your all. Ned and MJ are definitely a part of a lot of action this time around.

And speaking of that really cool stuff, do you think we’ll see more of that? It seems to be hinting at something…

I can honestly say that I don’t know what’s in Ned’s future. For us, this film may most likely be our last, but I’m open and willing to listen to whatever comes my way. But it would have to be an incredible project. I feel like we all accomplished what we wanted to accomplish with these characters and their arcs, and we don’t want to take these types of opportunities away from others who are deserving of them.

Without going into spoiler territory, what are some of your favourite scenes to film?

My favourite scenes are the ones with Peter (Tom Holland), Ned and MJ (Zendaya) together because they are the heart of this franchise and whenever we worked together it was a fun atmosphere even though we rarely got anything done.

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How similar or different are you to your character? Do you relate to Ned in real life?

I think the one thing that I relate to most with Ned is that we’re both blissfully ignorant. But for the most part, we’re pretty different. He’s a lot smarter than me, way more courageous, and just too cool for me.

What was your first reaction when you found out that the villains from the other versions of Spider-Man are going to appear in this movie?

It was shocking, firstly I thought there was no way they would be able to pull it off. It was just too ambitious at the time, but as soon as I read the script, I was like...“Wow, it’s actually going to happen!” I freaked out, the inner fan in me was going completely insane and to watch them all take on their roles again was such a blessing.

What is it like working with the actors who played those iconic villains?

They were all the most amazing human beings I ever had the pleasure to work with. They were all funny, nice, sweet, and unbelievably talented. Seeing them put their talent on display was amazing.

I’m so happy that people get to see a bit of themselves in this movie in particular because it’s such a huge deal. I’m very proud of Pinoy culture
Jacob Batalon

I’m not going to reveal much but as a Filipino myself, it’s very nice to hear a whole Filipino dialogue in the movie, especially from Ned’s lola! And the fact that they kept lola, instead of grandma. What do you think of that?

I think that it was very important to [director] Jon Watts to really represent Filipino culture. He asked me for my input and it made me feel seen. I’m so happy that people get to see a bit of themselves in this movie in particular because it’s such a huge deal. I’m very proud of Pinoy culture.

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Do you think we’d get to see a Filipino superhero on the big screen anytime soon?

I personally believe that there will be a Filipino superhero soon, it’s time that we are seen, heard and respected. I’ll keep pushing for that.

There’s been a lot of tease about a Venom crossover. Is that something you’d be up for?

Again, I’d be willing to listen to whatever they have come my way, but for the most part, I would enjoy seeing others take the same opportunities that I had been given. I’m looking forward to my career and I think that this franchise has been a storybook ending for us. I would love it if someone could have the same experience.

Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming project, Reginald the Vampire?

Yes! It’s based on a series of books called Fat Vampire by Johnny Truant and it’s about a guy—yours truly—who may not be a typical leading man type, take on a vampire community that is trying to destroy him for ruining their “perfect image”.

We take a lot of vampire tropes and turn it on its head, we poke fun at it, and it’s really a relatable story. I know there’s many of us out there who have been treated differently, or poorly for looking the way we do. It really holds a mirror up to society in that, we place value in looks and superficial things, when in reality who we are as people, what we’re about as people, truly defines you, not some societal stereotypes.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home is now showing in Hong Kong cinemas.

 

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