Most audiences met Jacob Batalon with his breakout performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, with the exciting superhero movie allowing him to take on even more compelling projects. As he plays Peter Parker's best friends in the film series, audiences can't help but connect with the character and hope his adventures turn out for the best, making the peril he faces in Quibi's 50 States of Fright seeing him face more danger than he's ever seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His episodes, which focus on legends from Colorado, unfold in what many believe to be one of the most haunted locales in the country.
In these episodes, when a bunch of “influencers” descend on Colorado’s most haunted hotel, they find themselves the victims of a bunch of spirits who just want to be left alone.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Batalon to talk about his connection to the horror genre, his thoughts on the supernatural, and the movies that most scare him.
ComicBook.com: Audiences might be most familiar for your Marvel films, but in 50 States of Fright, we get to see an all-new side of your acting abilities. I know you had a role in the horror film Blood Fest and now this new Quibi series, though are you just as interested in horror movies and TV shows as a fan?
Jacob Batalon: I feel like that's something that I truly enjoy watching with my cousins. We really love getting scared. Just being a part of a genre that I genuinely enjoy is something that I've wanted to do and horror, again, is so fun, the things that you get to do with horror films
And now that it's October, are there classic horror films you revisit ahead of Halloween or do you just check out everything?
Basically, I just watch whatever, like whatever new thing comes out. I don't really have a set list of scary films, but there's movies like The Conjuring and this other one that I've always ... oh, my God. I really need to think about the name of this. I don't remember the name of it right now, but basically, it's about this kid who astral projects and his dad has to go into his mind for the demon...
Yes. Insidious. Thank you. I literally remember watching that when I was 14 and just really genuinely getting so scared that I couldn't look at the TV. It was crazy. And even now I still get really terrified of it, but it's probably just because I'm [afraid].
Don't be so hard on yourself, we all watch these movies because we want to be afraid so it sounds like they work on you.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as well, really messed me up. And this is so funny now, because Jeepers Creepers doesn't seem scary today, but when I was a kid, it was terrifying.
Well, it makes sense, because it's about a creepy killer and halfway through you find out he's a demon, so I can see being afraid of that one.
The concept of 50 States of Fright is about local stories and urban legends, when you were growing up, did you live in a community with legends like this?
Yeah, definitely. I grew up in Hawaii, so Asian Hawaii is very, very close to the spirits. Growing up, there'd be stories of the Menehune or there's one place called "Morgan's Corner" where this couple got stranded by a tree and the boyfriend went to go out to get some help. And then the next day, the girlfriend came out to the car and saw him hanging from the tree that they were stuck at.
Then there's a bunch of places in Hawaii where people are actually very scared to truly trek through because they're very respectful of the spirits. So yeah, definitely. I definitely grew up with that.
And Hawaii, obviously it's part of America, but it feels like such a different perspective to the concept of spirits in the culture from other parts of the country that it's much more common to have a belief and respect of spirits.
Exactly. You just have to respect them. Exactly.
Do you personally believe in ghosts and spirits? Or have you ever had your own encounters with what you thought was a ghost?
I do. I do believe in the spirit world. I am very much aware of ... I don't know. It's just because I grew up in Hawaii, again, you learn to respect spirits and that really, in this life, there's so much to it, there's so much phenomenon that goes on that can't be really explained and I truly believe that that's spiritual. I truly believe in the spiritual realm. So I'm very much afraid of the dark, I'm very much afraid of those things. So yes, I definitely pray to God that I don't ever, ever have an encounter with a spirit, even if they are nice. I just ... I don't want to piss my pants.
So this is a big question: would you rather have a ghost appear out of thin air in front of you or would you rather be talking to a stranger and they suddenly vanish and you realize it was a ghost?
Oh, man. You know what? In each scenario, no one would believe me and I feel like that would make me go crazy, for one. So I guess ... oh man, it would probably have to be [having it appear out of nowhere] and it goes away as opposed to talking to it and then seeing it vanish because then I don't know what I'd do with my life.
It's like those stories of people saying they gave a woman a ride home and then they find out that woman actually died 40 years ago.
Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about and it's like, if it does happen to me, I don't want people to think I'm going crazy. You know? Goodness.
Your episodes of 50 States of Fright are about the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, but you filmed in Vancouver?
Yeah, we were in Vancouver for, I think, the whole anthology was actually shot in Vancouver. We were just maybe 20 minutes outside of the city at this very lovely home in the suburbs. And yeah, they were able to find a house that looks eerily similar to the hotel. So it was really cool.
So that was my question. We've seen the actual Stanley Hotel in the miniseries of The Shining from the '90s and in ghost-hunting shows, so was the place where you shot the series giving off a creepy vibe?
No, it was actually a very lovely home. I think that they did a really good job with really setting the tone, just with the sets itself. But other than that, it definitely didn't feel scary at all. There were people all over the house and we barely shot at night, so it was actually a really fun, a really, really, really fun time.
You star with Christina Ricci in the episodes, who is big in the horror community for The Addams Family and Casper, and then horror projects as an adult. What was it like working with her?
She was super awesome and she's really, definitely like that. She's definitely about darkness and the spirit realm and things like that, but in the best way. She's amazingly nice and really, really sweet about everything. She's also very professional, so it was really fun to really get her perspective on ghosts and everything. You could tell that she was very comfortable doing things like that because that's really who she is.
You mention liking things like The Conjuring and Insidious and Texas Chain Saw Massacre, is there a horror franchise you'd like to star in or do you prefer to just watch those series you like so much?
Yeah, I would do anything that Blumhouse does. They do really crazy things. And so if they offered it to me, I mean, I wouldn't hesitate. I would definitely do it. But there isn't anything I'm looking for particularly. I'm just a big fan of Blumhouse and Jordan Peele.
We mentioned earlier that people know you from the Spider-Man films and I don't want to try to spoil anything about the new movie, but are you looking forward to getting back into production or are you kind of enjoying this time away from the industry?
I feel like, just for myself personally, I feel like I've spent the entire year just like everyone else, not really working, per se. I would love to just work on something in general. I miss everyone from our squad. I miss our producers, our director. Obviously, I miss my castmates. I just miss everyone. I really just want to work and be productive and just see my friends again. So, definitely. I'm definitely really anxious to work again.
Last week those reports about Jamie Foxx being in the new film came out and fans were shocked, and then he confirmed it himself. I'm sure you learn about some of this stuff a little earlier than the rest of us, but what was your reaction when you found out that was happening? Were you as shocked as we all were?
Yes, definitely. I mean, I'm a huge fan of Jamie Foxx. Literally, I grew up watching his things and so being able to work with all these influential people in these movies has been like a godsend. I truly can't believe ... it's really because of Spider-Man that I get to meet all my heroes, so just having Jamie Foxx, he's so prolific. He's very diverse and he does do everything and it's so awesome to really just know that he's in our project. That's so awesome.0comments
50 States of Fright is now available on Quibi.