Interview with Jacob Batalon, Savannah Basley, Mandela Van Peebles and Em Haine of “Reginald the Vampire” on Syfy by Suzanne 9/15
NBC UNIVERSAL 2022 TCA PRESS TOUR
SYFY REGINALD THE VAMPIRE
Savannah Basley, Talent
Jacob Batalon, Talent
Em Haine, Talent
Mandela Van Peebles, Talent
Jeremiah Chechik, Executive Producer
Lindsay Macadam, Executive Producer
Harley Peyton, Showrunner/Executive Producer
Virtual via Zoom September 15, 2022
© 2022 NBC Universal. All rights reserved.
SHOW INTRODUCTION: Hello, and welcome to our panel for the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire.” The hour long series, which stars Jacob Batalon as the title character, will premiere on SYFY on Wednesday, October 5th at 10:00 p.m., following the Season 2 premiere of “Chucky.” Imagine a world populated by beautiful, fit, and vain vampires. Reginald Andres tumbles headlong into it as an unlikely hero who will have to navigate every kind of obstacle: the girl he loves, but can’t be with, a bully manager at work, and the vampire chieftain who wants him dead. Fortunately, Reginald discovers just a few unrecognized powers of his own. A new show with a lot of heart and just enough blood, “Reginald the Vampire” prove the end of life is just as complicated as life itself.
This was a great TCA panel about the show. I really enjoyed the episodes I watched, and you will, too. I told them this and jokingly thanked them for getting a certain earworm song they used in the show stuck in my head. Peyton replied that it’s stuck in all of their heads, too.
Savannah Basley plays the “evil” ancient vampire, Angela. Mandela Van Peebles (son of Mario Van Peebles!) plays Maurice, the vampire who turns Reginald. There is a very sexy scene in the show between them, so I asked them about what they had to go through as actors to do that scene, which was sexy but involved lots of blood. Savannah had already mentioned that there was lots of “stickiness.”
Savannah explained that it was fun and that she loves the horror genre. She loves being hands-on and said that being covered in blood and having it “squirting” was fun. She admitted that while there is a vain part of you that worries about how your hair and makeup look, you can let go of all that and have the freedom to wallow in the fake blood and just concentrate on acting in the scene. She did add that the stickiness was kind of annoying, but the rest was “a lot of fun.”
Mandela also answered that having EP Jeremiah Chechik and the other “great people behind the camera and being able to trust their vision” was the best part for him. He wants to look good in a sex scene and can be critical of himself. He also spoke at length about how the romance between Maurice and Angela spans many years, so the earlier sex scenes have more innocence, whereas the later ones have more confidence and “the strength of someone who has grown up a bit since the first time.” He agrees with Savannah that it’s fun and figures that when you’re immortal (like the vampires are), it would be difficult to keep holding a grudge (as Angela and Maurice do against each other). He enjoyed playing their relationship and is looking forward to seeing it on screen. Jeremiah also chimed in to compare these type of scenes with others he’s done in the past. He admits that “they can be very disquieting, can be very tense, and can be very uncomfortable.” However, they weren’t for these actors. He works hard to make sure that all of the actors “feel very comfortable and relaxed” and not “self conscious.”
He praised the actors for how they made the scenes fun. Savannah also replied that there was “safety on set.” They made sure that she and Mandela were comfortable, ready and feeling okay. They worked with an “intimacy coordinators,” which made them feel less vulnerable. She felt it was important to show Angela’s softer side, since she’s seen as angry or evil, so that we can see why Maurice fell in love with her. She might have put a wall up due to things that have happened in her 400-year lifetime.
Showrunner Harley joked, “She might pull your heart out of your chest, but other than that, she’s very, very soft inside.” Everyone laughed at that. There was quite a lot of laughing and joking around during the whole panel, which was very fun.
Most of the press questions were for Jacob, who’s not only the star of the show but famous for his role as Ned in the Spider-Man movies. He was asked about having to play a vampire. He praised Harley and the others for making the show as realistic as possible and turning the usual vampire “tropes” on their heads – especially the ones about vampires only being thin and beautiful. He jokingly added that the vampire blood gets everywhere, including in some “bad crevices.” He enjoys being the hero of the story, even though he’s not tall, thin or has “long, flowing hair.” He did have a hard time speaking, at first, because of the fangs, and tried to speak without a lisp on the first day of shooting.
He was also asked about how different it is being the lead in a TV show (after playing Spider-Man’s best friend). He answered that he just tries to make sure that everyone gets along well and enjoys their time on the set. He feels very fortunate that everyone he works with is “so great and so amazing and talented and sweet and willing to work.” He added that it shocked him how much you have to come to work prepared (he may have been joking here, but I’m not sure). He feels that working on the movies led to this way of thinking.
Harley praised Jacob because he wasn’t used to shooting 8 or 9 pages per day, and he was worried that he might burn out, but he is a “superstar.” He said that everyone in the cast is like that. He thinks they’re very lucky to have such a great cast and that is “such a key thing to a successful show.” He mentioned that Jacob is a real leader in the cast and that he never remembers him even having a bad day. Jeremiah added that Jacob was always completely prepared and ready; he set the tone for everyone else. Jacob modestly thanked them for being there for him. Then he joked, “but I am, like, on the title of the show, but whatever. It’s fine” which provoked more laughter.
Jacob was also asked about the trials his character is forced to go through, but he wasn’t sure what he could say without giving away any spoilers. Harley mentioned some difficult arcade games. Jacob said that the “vampire karaoke” was difficult for him (there is a great karaoke scene in the show, although it’s not part of his trials). This is where Savannah said that working with the sticky blood was difficult and got everywhere, which Jacob agreed with. Jeremiah concurred that they did use an awful lot of red liquid, but the cast “all kind of sublimated to that and drank deeply.”
Harley and the other producers were asked whether any particular vampire show or movie from the past inspired them. He acknowledged that it’s hard to forget about “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” but they mostly used the “Fat Vampire” books in which the series is based. They made many changes to that and “ended up with a kind of rom com workplace comedy drama.” Jeremiah also weighed in on how past vampire shows and movies inspired them, along with the book, to overturn all of the normal vampire clichés.
The cast were all asked about their favorite things about their characters. Savannah loves how Angela is strong, powerful smart and “claims this full autonomy over herself.” Em pointed out that Sarah is very real, since she isn’t playing a vampire. Sarah is “the grounded center” and she feels that she was able to grow along with the character as she tried to “find her place in the world.” Mandela enjoyed getting to do new things, such as playing a vampire. He tried to channel his granddad and great-grandad, since he was playing someone that’s lived a long time. He tried to bring “different generational traits to a modern character.” It was fun for him to do that as well as playing in a more diverse vampire universe. Jacob described how Reginald is very “thoughtful” and “enigmatic,” and he’s “uncertain about life” and yet aware of how people see him now in this situation (as a “fat vampire”). He used this big change in his life to become a better person. He also thinks that the other characters really affect Reginald’s life deeply. He really loves playing with all of that.
Everyone was asked what other creatures they would like to see on the show. Harley said in a mysterious way that they all would love to see “an angel with a flaming sword.” Jacob likes dragons, and Em agreed, but Harley said that he doesn’t think they could afford dragons. Jacob would also love to see a “vampire battle.” Jeremiah said that they could have just about any type of fantastical creature, since they have vampires. Savannah loves mythology and would love to see a wendigo. Someone else mentioned a Chupacabra. Em joked that she’d like to see a jackalope. Harley agreed that it would be “more appropriate” for their show and “that’s definitely affordable for our special effects.” Savannah asked if Angela could have a pet jackalope. Harley said that he had really wanted to have Mandela and Nikki holding puppies, but they weren’t able to make it happen (that may have been a joke). Em talked about how much fun their show is, that they can be absurd. She commented, “I love that. I love that shit.”
They were asked how their show will stand out from all of the other vampire series currently on the air or coming up. Harley pointed out that most of the shows are not humorous (aside from “What We Do in the Shadows”). He thinks that their source material created a certain type of tone where they have an “interesting dichotomy between the vampire world, where vampires are really vapid, vain, runway models” and they use that to address the issues of “body shaming and body positivity” where Reginald doesn’t fit into that same type, which is different from other shows. They get into how the vampires “love bureaucracy” and are very vain. He discussed the conflict in the vampires between what they see when they look in the mirror (which they do a lot) and whether their inner beauty matches up.
Jeremiah said eloquently that their show is “very rooted in real emotional dynamics. That is the rock solid foundation, and it’s based on how we fit in, how we present ourselves, what we think of ourselves, how we relate to others, what is expected of us, our sexual orientation…the color of our skin. All of these things are really social dynamics which we explore within the wrapping of a vampire show.” Their show is more about those aspects rather than sucking people’s blood. It’s about how you can improve your life after you die. He also mentioned that their show stands out both “tonally and visually” from other vampire shows. It’s not as dark. Lindsay put in her two cents that their show has a different heart than the other shows. It’s really more of “an underdog story” with a “positive message that’s baked into all the entertainment and comedy. So it’s very aspirational, and it’s just so much fun.” She also said that the other shows don’t have their talented cast. Jacob agreed that their show is more about “the human condition” and the journey of self that Reginald goes through, and “the connections he has through death.” He concluded that Reginald “learns life through death, and that’s a very poignant and deeper sort of meaning than just, like, wanting to kill people and look super hot.” Jeremiah informed us that Syfy ordered the show because it’s original; there is nothing else like it on TV.
Mandela was asked to comment on a story his father (Mario Van Peebles) told about how his grandfather (Melvin Van Peebles) wouldn’t help him when he wanted to become an actor because he wanted him to do it on his own. He asked if that’s the way it was with him as well. Mandela answered that he went to college, and then when he tried to get a “real job,” it didn’t work out. He found it very hard. He remembered how much fun it was when he was a kid, traveling all over the world with his dad to different places (for filming). He figured that working on a set was a lot more comfortable for him than working in an office. Once he decided to go for that, it worked out. He’s very excited to be doing the show. He didn’t really answer the question, but that’s fine.
Jeremiah joked, “I’d stick with this for a while.” The reporter asked Mandela what type of regular job he had been looking for, so Mandela answered that he made smoothies at a health food store, “Simply Wholesome.” I thought he was joking at the time (since Reginald and his friends make smoothies), but maybe he wasn’t. It was hard to tell in this panel because there was a lot of deadpan joking.
Reginald the Vampire
Premieres Wednesday, October 5, at 10 PM ET/PT on SYFY
Imagine a world populated by beautiful, fit and vain vampires. Reginald Andres tumbles headlong into it as an unlikely hero who will have to navigate every kind of obstacle – the girl he loves but can’t be with, a bully manager at work and the vampire chieftain who wants him dead. Fortunately, Reginald discovers he has a few unrecognized powers of his own. A new show with a lot of heart and just enough blood, “Reginald the Vampire” proves the undead life is just as complicated as life itself.
“Reginald the Vampire” is produced by Great Pacific Media Inc., Modern Story Company, December Films and Cineflix Studios and executive produced by Harley Peyton, Jeremiah Chechik, Todd Berger, Lindsay Macadam, Brett Burlock and Peter Emerson. The series is based on the book series by Johnny B. Truant.
Reginald Andres, “Reginald the Vampire”
Jacob Batalon plays Reginald Andres in the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Batalon is best known for his role as Peter Parker’s charming best friend Ned Leeds in the “Spider-Man” films starring Tom Holland, including the most recent box office smash “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” He’s also appeared in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” as well as several indie films.
Upcoming projects include the films “Horrorscope” as well as Netflix’s “Lift,” alongside Kevin Hart.
Born and raised in Honolulu to Filipino parents, Batalon attended a two-year acting program at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. While working through his last year in the program, he sent in a self-tape submission for a vague supporting role in a Marvel movie, his first audition ever, which led to being cast in the “Spider-Man” films.
Angela Hibbert, “Reginald the Vampire”
Savannah Basley plays Angela Hibbert in the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Basley’s first TV role was in “The Art of More and she has subsequently appeared in multiple series, including “Tales from the Hood,” “Coroner,” “Utopia Falls” and “Wynonna Earp.” She’ll soon return for the second season of “SurrealEstate.”
Her first film role was in the 2015 short “White Lock,” which won the Special Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival.
Basley is a dual Canadian-US citizen, the daughter of a Canadian mom and an American military veteran.
Sarah Kinney, “Reginald the Vampire”
Em Haine plays Sarah Kinney in the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Born in Vancouver, B.C., Haine is the only child of an Austrian father and French-Canadian mother. They eventually moved to London to study the Meisner technique at the Actors Temple. While in both New York and Los Angeles, Haine took up Improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Haine’s first break came with the role of oddball Noreen Vanderslice in the critically acclaimed miniseries “Fargo.” Other TV credits include “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.”
On the film side, Haine has appeared in “Deadpool,” “Tully” and the indie “Gregoire.”
Mandela Van Peebles
Maurice Miller, “Reginald the Vampire”
Mandela Van Peebles will play Maurice Miller on the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Van Peebles most recently recurred on Taylor Sheridan’s drama series “The Mayor of Kingstown.” He recently guest starred on season 2 of “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” and appeared in the biopic “Salt N Pepa.”
Past film work includes a starring role in “Jigsaw,” the latest installment of the “Saw” franchise, and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage.”
Other television work includes the 2016 Emmy Award-nominated miniseries “Roots.”
Executive Producer, “Reginald the Vampire”
Harley Peyton is an executive producer and showrunner on the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Peyton was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and attended Harvard and Stanford universities as well as the California Institute of the Arts.
On the TV front, Peyton has served as a writer and/or producer on “Twin Peaks,” “Moon Over Miami,” “Route 66,” “Dracula,” “Wedding Band,” “Reign,” “Dominion,” “Channel Zero” “Project Blue Book” and, most recently, “Chucky.”
On the film side, his credits include “Less Than Zero,” “Gold Coast,” “Heaven’s Prisoners,” “Bandits” and “Friends With Benefits.”
Executive Producer/Director, “Reginald the Vampire”
Jeremiah Chechik is an executive producer and director for the new SYFY series “Reginald the Vampire,” which premieres Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Chechik is an award-winning director who has worked in commercials, studio and independent film and domestic and international television for three decades. Among his several feature credits are “Christmas Vacation” and “Benny and Joon.”
In television, he has worked for all the major studios and/or networks and has directed pilots, produced miniseries and worked in every possible genre. Among his credits are “The Bronx Is Burning,” “Gossip Girl,” “Burn Notice,” “Helix,” “Criminal Minds,” “Chuck,” “Shadowhunters,” “Rogue,” “The Gifted” and many others.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda