Movies & TV

A Look at Jacob Batalon, Spider-Man’s Pinoy BFF

Jacob Batalon is actually real-life best friends with Tom Holland.

Life is aloha.” The three-word sentence describes the life of Jacob Batalon, the Filipino actor who plays Ned Leeds, Peter Parker’s BFF. The sentence is also his username on Instagram. Batalon stars alongside Tom Holland who plays Spider-Man. Ned is a nerd whose life changes when he accidentally discovers that he’s best friends with a superhero.

Batalon grew up in Hawaii, where he was born to Filipino parents. There, he attended Catholic school, and took up Music Theory when in college. He eventually dropped out of the course and decided to pursue acting. He enrolled at a two-year acting course at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

Photo by IMDB.

It was during his time in acting school when he was selected to play the role of Peter Parker’s best buddy.

“I was going to film school, and my manager at the time put me up for a self-tape, which was called ‘An Untitled Marvel Project,’ said Batalon in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. Batalon explains that during the self-tape, Marvel Studios covered up the purpose of the shoot.


“Everything was fake, the signs were fake. The only thing I knew was that it was for a Marvel movie,” said Batalon. Today, Batalon’s dorky, quirky character Ned Leeds has captured the hearts of not only Filipinos, but also of Spider-Man fans around the world, including Jimmy Kimmel.

“When I saw you on the movie, I said ‘We got to have that kid on the show!’” said Kimmel.

Back in his home in Oahu, Batalon has become so beloved that the people created a holiday after him. In Oahu, July 7th is celebrated as Jacob Batalon Day.

“It’s kind of like a day when people just do nothing,” jokes Batalon, professing his “aloha life.”

Jacob Batalon and Tom Holland are Real-life Best Friends

Off-screen, Batalon and Holland remain best friends. “We’re brothers,” Batalon boasts on air in his Jimmy Kimmel interview.

He proceeds to facetime Holland to prove his point to a doubtful Kimmel, and when they connected, Holland blurts out an affectionate greeting to Batalon: “I miss you, man!”

Batalon recalls the time he first met Holland, and it was through a screen test, to see if the two actors had good chemistry on screen. Apparently, the producers thought they worked perfectly together, because after a little over two months, Batalon was selected to play Ned Leeds, who is a traditionally Caucasian character.

“I’m really proud to be able to be this version of the character,” Batalon said in an interview with NBC. “I’m proud to represent the Asian community, and I’m proud that Filipinos are proud. I’m glad that I get to be that guy.”

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Jacob Batalon once agan appears alongside Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far From Home. It opened in Philippine cinemas on Wednesday, July 3.

View this post on Instagram

The premiere pull up hit different when it’s with a Q7 @audi ???????????? #ad #farfromhome #spideysquad

A post shared by Jacob Batalon (@lifeisaloha) on

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We were all literally looking at different cameras???????????? #spideysquad #farfromhome

A post shared by Jacob Batalon (@lifeisaloha) on

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Just checking the DMs???????????? #homecoming #premiere

A post shared by Jacob Batalon (@lifeisaloha) on

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The whole squad mobbin’ ???????????????? #farfromhome #spideysquad

A post shared by Jacob Batalon (@lifeisaloha) on

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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