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Jacob Batalon and the 'Reginald the Vampire' team break down the series premiere
Showrunner Harley Peyton and star Jacob Batalon sink their teeth into the Reginald the Vampire series premiere.
There's no shortage of vampire-centric TV series out there, but the premiere of SYFY's Reginald the Vampire did the hard work of distinguishing it from the toothy pack. A loose adaptation of novelist Johnny Truant's Fat Vampire books, Reginald gives us perhaps the sweetest and most sympathetic vamp to ever grace screens. As played by Spider-Man: No Way Home star Jacob Batalon, Reginald is a romantic, nerd loner who can't quite get his life out of neutral. Stuck in a dead end retail job at the local Slushy Shack, Reginald is afraid of a lot of things, including how to ask out his co-worker, Sarah (Em Haine). But everything changes in the series pilot, "Dead Weight," when Reg is bitten and then sired by the vampire Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles).
In the first of our exclusive weekly SYFY WIRE Reginald the Vampire episode post mortems, executive producers Harley Peyton and Lindsay Macadam, and Batalon, who is a co-executive producer in addition to playing the title character, reveal some of the moments they think best define what makes this vampire show so unique.
Heart is what executive producer Lindsay Macadam thinks is the secret weapon of Reginald the Vampire's approach to the genre. "What really appealed to me was this is such an underdog story, and there's a really positive message that's baked into all of the entertainment and comedy," Macadam tells SYFY WIRE. "It's very aspirational, and it's just so much fun. And all those other shows don't have Jacob and the cast that we have. We've just nailed it right off the top."
It's not a common feature for vampire series to give their main character multiple emotional monologues that reveal the inner most vulnerabilities. But Reginald does just that when he has a heart-to-heart with the big deity in the sky demanding an apology for his rotten path and begging for a fresh start. And he follows that up by sharing how alone he's been since his parents moved to Hawaii and left him to fend for himself.
"I think for Reginald, his family is a big sticking point for him," Batalon says about the importance of what he says about his parents in the episode. "I really wanted to make that a clear thing, that his life has only gotten worse since his family left. I think that was probably a mainstay [for him]. And also, in the beginning with his monologue begging God for another chance, we've all been in that place. And that's something that I really wanted to make sure hit home because I know that I've been in that space."
Asked what was harder to land in the pilot, getting those big speeches right or the scene where he's covered in blood when Maurice sires him, Batalon instantly says navigating the blood was the tougher task. "Only because it was freezing cold outside," he says of the outside night shoot. "We had this whole apparatus wrapped into my back where all the blood comes out and it was freezing and sticky. And me and Mandela are like out in the middle of the street. It looks like he murdered me. It was really, really tough but worth it in the end. It looked great."
Of course, the pilot wasn't just about feelings. Showrunner/executive producer Harley Peyton admits to being a vampire drama aficionado. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Vampire Diaries, he admits to binging them all from beginning to end. With Reginald the Vampire, he gets to finally create his own mythology and lean into the mysteries of the vampire existence that maybe don't get as much attention. For example, glamouring, which is when vampires can influence a human to do their bidding or even forget they exist.
"I was always fascinated about this notion of glamouring, like being able to hypnotize people into doing something," Peyton says. "In this show, we ended up getting into that pretty deeply, about what the impact is of having your memories taken out of you, or what if you're falling in love with someone and those feelings are taken away from you? To me, that aspect was really fascinating and something that we were digging into along the way. There's some very big dramatic moments that are all based on that idea about glamouring, and how it impacts both the person who's doing it and the people who are the victim of it."
Peyton says audiences should expect the first few episodes to lay out the rules of being a vampire in this show's universe.
"For Reginald, in particular, that was just fun to write; the idea that he's going to find strengths that he didn't know he had," he teases. "And by the way, as a vampire, it turns out he does have a couple of strengths most vampires don't. That was really something just beyond the "big brain" aspect of him because he's so smart. He's dealing with a lot of people who are fashionista [vampires] and they aren't that smart, so there is that comedy to play. But there's other aspects of it too and it's become very important."
New episodes of Reginald the Vampire airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern on SYFY.