Jacob Batalon made a major impression in Spider-Man: Homecoming before the movie even dropped, thanks to his character’s hilarious in-trailer reaction to finding out BFF Peter Parker is actually Spider-Man. Once Homecoming was released, the Hawaiian actor’s lovably nerdy and enthusiastic Ned was confirmed as one of the standout elements in a movie already teeming with wonderful stuff. In follow-up Far From Home, Ned took a more active role in the proceedings and solidified his status as a fan-favorite.
Batalon was a virtual unknown prior to jumping aboard the Sony/Marvel train, and it’s safe to say he’s turned his breakout role into a major moment by loading up the subsequent years with interesting work. Aside from ensuring he’s a screen fixture for the foreseeable future, regardless of what happens with Peter Parker et al. Batalon is turning heads for his impressive body transformation, which signals leading man status is also on the way.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was Batalon’s first audition ever, although he didn’t realize it at the time. As Inverse notes, the casting call simply required a supporting character for a Marvel movie who, race, age, and body type aside, could convincingly play a teenager. Batalon put himself on tape, and soon he was summoned to California for screen tests with Peter Parker himself, Tom Holland. Thankfully, the two clicked immediately and even roomed together for a while.
Batalon knew he’d “made it” when, while doing a press tour in South Korea, a fan approached him with a box of discontinued cereal Oreo O’s, which thankfully remained available there even if they weren’t elsewhere. Batalon recalled, “I was genuinely shocked. I hadn’t seen that cereal since I was, like, 7, and they just go, ‘Here, take my cereal.'”