Mandela Van Peebles opens up about SYFY’s Reginald The Vampire
Jan 3, 2023
Can becoming a vampire be a saving grace? The folks who created SYFY’s Reginald The Vampire seem to think so. Follow along. By his own admission, Reginald (fan favorite Jacob Batalon of Spider-Man: Homecoming) isn’t living the life he should be living. He works at the Slushy Shack and can’t quite get the gal of his dreams. One crazy night, Reginald meets Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles), who wants to help him. Unfortunately, Reginald is killed by Maurice’s enemies and the only way to “save” him is to turn the guy into a vampire.
Suddenly, Reginald must learn how to adapt—and survive—his bizarre new lifestyle—basically keeping his vampire cravings a secret. Somewhere along the way, Reginald discovers untapped abilities and strives to become a better man and a vampire, even while dangers lurk in the shadows.
MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAY
Speaking of… this breezy new series doesn’t quite seem to be saying “I’ll see your fangs and raise you several more” to What We Do in the Shadows, but clearly, it’s playing into viewers’ love for all things vampy—and campy for that matter. The dramedy is based on Johnny B. Truant’s “Fat Vampire” book series. The series also stars Savannah Basley and Em Haine.
Van Peebles, seen recently in The Mayor of Kingstown, and who’s previously starred in Jigsaw and the latest installment of the Saw franchise, tells MovieWeb all about his role as mentor Maurice in the series, and much more.
On Playing A Mentor Vampire
MovieWeb: What inspires you most about the new show?
Mandela Van Peebles: There are a lot of cool things about Reginald The Vampire. This type of series hasn’t been done before, especially the genre-bending nature of it. Is it a horror comedy or a drama, or a coming-of-age story? I’s got everything. And it’s diverse on every level. The cast is diverse in terms of ethnicity, age range, body type, and sexual orientation. It literally has a great representation of the melting pot, which is America. So, I feel audiences can really enjoy it. And almost anyone can find a character that resonates with some part of them.
MW: Let’s talk about your character. What did you find most intriguing about Maurice?
Mandela Van Peebles: Maurice turned Reginald into a vampire. From there on out, I’m his friend, his mentor, and responsible for keeping him ‘alive.’ Until the assessment. We have a finite date in which Reginald must get it together. For me, there was more research involved than I expected with the character, and I enjoyed that because the possibilities were pretty endless. This was my first time playing a vampire, but even during the auditioning process, I was thinking about backstory, and what kind of elements I could bring to make this character interesting, real, and authentic. Different things like that.
Related: Exclusive: Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, and Ashley Burch on Season Three of Mythic Quest
MW: Was there anything you did that stood out in the audition?
Mandela Van Peebles: I remember doing the audition with a gold tooth because I felt Maurice, somebody born in the 1970s, may have had one. I thought it’d be a cool touch and Harley Peyton, the showrunner, loved the idea. So, we did that, then Harley was really open to any creative conversations. I also enjoyed really diving into the idea of ‘how do I inform Maurice as a character?’ I thought, ‘Who do I know around that age range?’ My granddad obviously comes to my mind, so just bringing in some of those elements of Maurice being an old soul and the wisdom and the fun. The possibilities are endless when playing an immortal character, so…
MW: Speaking of your family, your father is Mario Van Peebles and you’re the grandson of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles. How has coming from a family that’s very prominent in the entertainment business informed your career choices? Was there anyone that really stood out that influenced; gave you some interesting observations about the craft or life itself?
Mandela Van Peebles: It’s always kind of been in my peripherals growing up, visiting my dad at work. His work looked a lot different than my classmates’ parents. As you grow older you realize it’s not that way for everybody. Then the reality of it sinks in and think you may have to have a ‘regular’ job. And do you want that? Seeing my dad make a living doing what he loved and allowing us to travel with him to work, where he did these awesome things, ran throughout my childhood. Seeing that he got to do what he loved to do—playing make-believe—was significant. After graduating college and getting into the workforce, I knew I wanted to pursue acting. It makes me happy. It doesn’t just make me money. So yeah, I think if you’re doing a job that doesn’t feel like work, then, you never ‘work’ a day in your life.
A Series With Deeper Meaning
MW: Why do we dig vampire shows and movies so much? What’s the allure?
Mandela Van Peebles: It’s very popular, the lore around vampires. I think part of what makes it a timeless story is that it has its roots in every different culture. You know, you’ve got tribes in Africa that have rituals where they drink blood, thinking it gives them powers. There’s obviously Transylvania and Dracula lore, and everybody has their version of that. It’s also kind of a test to make something you know. Unless it’s like mythological creatures like mermaids and dragons, and it kind of adds a bit of mystery, like—was this true at some point?’ That’s part of what keeps it interesting. It’s the thought of, ‘maybe it’s true; maybe they are vampires out there.’
MW: Were you into vampires growing up?
Mandela Van Peebles: Oh, yeah. I love horror movies to begin with. I like to get scared—the blood and gore. And what’s great about Reginald The Vampire is that you get have the blood and the gore, but you get to laugh, too. That’s kind of fun. But for me. I was a Twilight fan, for sure. I have a lot of sisters. So, I’ve seen my fair episodes have a fair share of episodes of True Blood and Vampire Diaries. I like to get a feel for what’s out there as well. If I’m going to do a Western, I like to watch all the classic westerns—Yellowstone for instance. So, when I when I found out about Reginald The Vampire, I did a deep dive and just watched as much vampire-related things as I could to soak it all up.
MW: So, what do you really hope people take away from the series?
Mandela Van Peebles: This series plays on so many levels and I feel there’s so much good messaging in the show. It’s almost kind of snuck in there in a way—like a little bit of medicine in peanut butter. You’re watching something entertaining, but you’re feeling good. And it touches on social issues, which is great.
New episodes of Reginald The Vampire play on SYFY Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.
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