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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Jacob Batalon reacts to the Spidey news and confirms Ned will return

By Tara Bennett
Spider-Man: Far From Home

It's been crazy three months since Spider-Man: Far from Home debuted in theaters on July 2. On the super positive, the post Avengers: Endgame release got great reviews and made a stunning $1.1 billion (with a B) worldwide. However, by late August the entire future of the Spider-Man franchise was suddenly in question when the deal between Disney and Sony to make more Marvel Studios' produced sequels stalled over profit percentages.

Everyone was shocked, from fans to star Tom Holland and co-stars like Jacob Batalon, all unsure if Peter Parker and his friends would ever be part of the MCU again.

But then the clouds parted on Friday, and in a move Tony Stark would smirk at, Disney and Sony announced Spider-Man would have one more movie and a cameo left in his MCU arc.

Spider-Man Far From Home kids

With Spider-Man: Far from Home dropping on 4K and Blu-ray on October 1, SYFY WIRE just happened to get Batalon, aka Peter's BFF and 'guy in the chair,' Ned Leeds, on the phone for this reaction to all of the drama swirling around his franchise.

So, it's been quite the month for you and your Spidey pals?

Oh, definitely, very all over the place.

I'm sure for all of you it's been odd being at the mercy of corporate decisions?

Yeah. I think we were all pretty much prepared to just move on with Sony. We don't really have a say in anything, but we definitely are happy to be back working with Marvel.

Your first major film role was in Spider-Man: Homecoming. How did it feel coming back for this sequel having that one under your proverbial belt?

I felt so much more comfortable with our crew, and especially with each other, our cast. We kind of all just grew up together. We were still teenagers when we made Homecoming. It's a really different experience now for us, especially to look at the business side of it all. I feel a lot more stable and just a lot better in my career, and in my personal life.

When did director Jon Watts, or the producers, really start pitching you what Ned's arc was going to be: a romance that was super charming?

It was very out of the blue. We really came across that maybe about two weeks before we started filming, when I really got to read the script. But Tom, per usual, had told me about this months in advance anyway. So, I found out from him really before Jon. So, it was good. And yeah, the romance was just a really fun thing for me and Angourie (Rice). That was our third film together. It was really cool. And I've honestly never had the chance to have an on-screen romance before, so it was really fun.

As an adult looking back at teen emotions, that accelerated romance between Ned and Betty was so perfect. But as actor, you guys had to sell that with minimal screen time. How did you tackle it?

Yeah. I think it comes from the fact that we have worked together a bit already, and I've known her since she was 15. I've just seen her grow up. It was really awesome. It was really, really amazing to see her progression, not just as an actor, but obviously as a person. And she's so cool and very intelligent, really funny. So, it was really easy to work with her. I feel like the whole idea of it was so preposterous for us. It was almost too easy for us to just play around with it.

Did Jon lean into more improv with those scenes because you do have a natural rapport with each other?

I feel like we had a pretty set idea of where we wanted the relationship to go, and Jon did give us room to make our own choices and improvise. But, I feel like our overall idea of a couple itself, we all were pretty much on the same page with it.

With the film going international, what did that scale and taking the shoot abroad do to change it up for the cast this time around?

I think it gave more dimensions to our film and to our process. And it was so interesting to work with different people. I just feel like working with a foreign crew, you don't really understand what the language barriers and the communication barriers there that come with it. But, I thought we made it out really well. It was really a lot for our first time in Europe as well. So, I think for us personally, it was just like an adventure, like summer vacation.

Marvel Studios movies change a lot during production. Was it easier to go with the flow of that this time around?

It was something we learned on the job. I feel like getting the [new] pages on the day was, I guess, it's not a stressful process, but it's really something that you need to be focused with. Ultimately, it's just whether or not you know your character well. I think we all have a pretty good idea of who we are on film, and what we do, and what we offer. So, we get the script, and we just get it down, and you just have to work with it really.

And personally, they give me so much room to improvise, Tom and I, because we just never know our lines. (Laughs) But, I think that's really that. But, everyone else is professional enough to handle getting like a monologue, or two new scenes, or something like that.

So much of what you shoot is green screen. So, what was the scene where you were like, "Oh, wow. That's what that looked like" when you got to finally see the finished film?

Yeah. It probably has to be the carnival scene where the molten monster attacks the crowd. Angourie and I were filming in this Ferris wheel for 12 hours straight. It was really just us reacting to lights and people running away and us saying our lines in a basket for 12 hours. So, it was relieving to see it turn out really well. It was very satisfying.

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How was it working with A-listers like Sam Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal?

Yeah, I had that one scene with Sam when Ned comes into Peter's room. Everyone told me he says how he feels. And he's such a great actor. You don't really question what he does when he's working. But, other than that, he's a very lovely man. I think the only other times I saw him was during press in England and when we were in L.A. He was so lovely to my family. He's just a really sweet man, seriously. And I'm so grateful I got to know him.

And Jake, especially, is just a bro. He's like a brother to us. He was very nice and so cool. He's like a dorky cool dude. (Laughs)

Obviously, there's been talk of a third film. When you were shooting were there conversations about where Jon and Tom and you all are hoping the story will go?

No, really we're so high off of the success of the second one. We worked so hard on it that I feel like there was just never really any serious ideas or talks about the script of the next one, just because it's just all happening so fast. We finished the sequel, and it made $1 billion. And then, all of a sudden, it's nothing. I feel like it's really stressful! We always have our own ideas. But, whenever we come up with something, [Jon] says something that's so much better. I've stopped thinking about what I want for my character.

Well now that Peter's been revealed, there's going to be even more need for Ned in the chair?

It's crazy. There's so many possibilities. It's amazing that we have the opportunity to be in this universe.

And you're definitely contracted for the next one?

Yeah. I think we're all set to go, yeah.