Marvel's Jacob Batalon Hid His Role In Spider-Man From His Family And Friends

Jacob Batalon had come a long way since his breakout role in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Though his career kicked into gear as Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) guy in the chair, the trilogy has officially wrapped and for better or worse, the future of the MCU's Spidey remains somewhat of a mystery. For Batalon, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though the finality would be bittersweet, saying goodbye to the saga that launched his career gives him room to grow — which means more time for projects like his new SyFy series, "Reginald The Vampire." But moving forward does't mean forgetting where it all began.

Batalon recently reminisced about his "Spider-Man" days during a chat with Anna Faris, as part of her ongoing podcast series "Anna Faris Is Unqualified." In case you're not familiar, the actress' advice podcast happens in two parts: she interviews her weekly celebrity guest and poses questions based on hypothetical relationship scenarios, then in the second part, calls a listener with a personal dilemma to offer some "unqualified" advice.

During the first section of this week's episode, Faris digs into the early days of Batalon's career, the process of being cast as Ned Leeds and the impact of taking that life-changing career step. One of the first things Batalon recalls is the reaction of his loved ones when the news was finally announced. Batalon said,

"When I first got 'Spider-Man' I couldn't tell any of my friends, so I waited until news came out. And basically, the whole island of Oahu was really happy and everything, and my friends were really caught off guard. They were genuinely super hype and excited, but they were also like, 'What the f*** dude? Where did this even come from?'"

While the revelation was a joyous occasion, it took a long and stressful road for Batalon to get there.

Becoming Ned Leeds

During his conversation with Faris, Batalon briefly delves into the audition process he underwent to get the part of Ned. At the time, he was still attending drama school. Graduation was approaching when his manager brought him the opportunity and Batalon's priority was having a job lined up after finishing school. And so the process began.

Auditioning involved figuring out self-taping, going in for a screen test and then sitting through months of radio silence. The moment of triumph was almost anti-climactic: "I just kinda got the call randomly on a Thursday night," Batalon explained. By that point, he figured that if he did hear back, it would be for a side role or smaller part but voilà! When Marvel reached out, it was to tell him that he got the role of Peter Parker's bestie, Ned Leeds. For Batalon, "Everything kinda became more colorful after getting a part in a movie." But entering the Marvel machine also came with a lot of stress and pressure, which probably wasn't helped by all the hoops of secrecy.

Coping with the Marvel secrecy

We all jest about the Marvel snipers, the men in trechcoats who mysteriously show up with movie scripts and the watchful eye of Kevin Feige but in the months leading up to production, it was no joke for Batalon. The young actor recalled,

"It was very scary because I couldn't really speak to anyone about it. I felt like I was going on some undercover missions. I would get passwords to secret websites to read the sides for my auditions. It was really crazy."

As a veteran of the movie-making world, Anna Faris could obviously relate. The "Scary Movie" star recalled being cast in her own breakout role and feeling a certain sense of isolation — and that was with a franchise that didn't demand half as much secrecy from her. Faris explained:

"When I got 'Scary Movie,' I could tell anybody... Even though I could tell people, I couldn't tell anybody that understood the journey I was about to go on... It felt really scary."

Batalon could relate to the period of stress after winning the role, since he literally couldn't tell friends or family and initially had no one to share the experience with. But a big part of bearing that pressure was getting to work alongside fellow young actors Zendaya and Tom Holland, who may have been in the industry a little longer, but were at similar points in their lives and also navigating the big Marvel machine for the first time.

Batalon let the secret slip to one lucky family member

Later in their conversation, Faris brought up a past interview where Batalon revealed that he hid the role from everyone in his family — except his brother-in-law. Batalon explained, "I told him because he, at that point, was going to be deployed ... and I wanted to give him a piece of good news before he left." Of his brother's reaction, he said:

"He was really hyped, because I feel like he is the type that doesn't show emotions a lot, he's a military boss guy, so he's always forward. But he was super excited and he actually did keep the secret from my family the whole time. He thought, at first, I was calling to tell him I got someone pregnant."

Sharing the news with a family member was also a weight off his own chest: "It was a really nice moment I had with him. I felt a lot more at peace with myself, that I could tell a family member and know that it wouldn't be a jeopardizing thing to do."

The rest of their delightful conversation is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever else you listen to podcasts.