A Filipino-American actor plays the role of Peter Parker’s geeky best friend in the upcoming Hollywood superhero movie “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Jacob Batalon, 20, is a rising young actor who made his big screen debut last year in the horror indie “North Woods,” about a group of students who are shooting a documentary in a mysterious forest.
Jacob is the youngest of seven children in his family. It is not yet clear which of his parents is Filipino, but it was his mother who encouraged him to sing and play the ukulele as a young boy.
After his high school graduation, he left Hawaii and took a two-year acting program at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.
Last year, he auditioned for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the second big screen reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.
Jacob landed the role of Ned Leeds, the high school best friend of Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man played by British actor Tom Holland, 21.
He has appeared in all of the film’s three trailers and is shown as one of the few people who knows about Spider-man’s real identity.
“[The film is] just about Peter dealing with being a superhero and going through puberty. He still has to worry about homework; he still has to worry about his crush liking him, while trying to save someone who’s probably in a burning building. He can’t tell anyone because he’s not the cool kid, so he’s just stuck with this really cool life that he can’t tell anyone about,” Jacob told Hawaii-based broadcast network KHON2 News in a recent interview.
“Ned understands Peter’s life and he thinks he’s the one who can help him deal with being a crimefighter,” he noted in another interview with USA Today.
Although comic book fans of Spider-Man will be familiar with the name Ned Leeds, he is not at all what he is depicted in the new film. In his printed iteration, Ned is an ill-fated Daily Bugle reporter who was brainwashed into thinking he was the Hobgoblin, one of the many arch-villains of Spider-Man.
Incidentally, the Hobgoblin is not the featured villain in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Instead, he will be tangling with the Vulture played in the film by Michael Keaton. In past Spider-Man films, he has battled the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Venom, Lizard and Electro.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” may only be Jacob’s second film but the future already looks bright for the young lad.
He’s already signed up for the Spider-Man sequel scheduled for release in 2019 and he will also portray the very prominent role of Sancho Panza in “The True Don Quixote,” the latest big screen adaptation of the literary classic by Cervantes.
Produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is directed by Jon Watts and also stars Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Donald Glover, Robert Downey Jr., Zendaya, Laura Harrier and Tony Revolori.
The film opens in Philippine cinemas on July 6.