He had a first round of fame as an in-demand child actor and the star of the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody with his twin brother Dylan Sprouse.
But Cole Sprouse was focused on the trauma of being a child actor in a new profile for The New York Times that was published Tuesday.
The 29-year-old actor delved into his ‘second round’ of fame on The CW’s hit series Riverdale and how he and his brother didn’t emerge ‘unscathed’ from their early fame.
Bumpy road: Cole Sprouse, 29, delved into his history as a Disney Channel star–turned–Riverdale heartthrob and how he didn’t emerge ‘unscathed’ from his early career in a profile for The New York Times published Tuesday; seen March 27 in Beverly Hills
Cole — who starred in the Disney show alongside his twin brother Dylan, Ashley Tisdale and Brenda Song — reflected: ‘My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, “Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!” No. The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences.
‘And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience,’ he added.
Cole admitted to being ‘violently defensive’ of other child stars. The actor also revealed that Riverdale has reminded him of his own childhood experiences.
Cole — who plays the part of Jughead Jones in the hit teen drama, said: ‘When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma.
Sticking up for them: Cole starred with his brother Dylan on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life Of Zach & Cody, which made him ‘violently defensive’ of child stars; seen on The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody in 2005
Different expectations: He noted that ‘fame is a trauma’ and defended young female actors, whom he said are judged harder than young male stars; seen on Riverdale
‘So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover.
‘And, to be quite honest, as I have now gone through a second big round of this fame game as an adult, I’ve noticed the same psychological effects that fame yields upon a group of young adults as I did when I was a child,’ he added.
Cole noted that ‘people have an easier time hiding [the psychological effects] when they’re older.’
Take two: ‘And, to be quite honest, as I have now gone through a second big round of this fame game as an adult, I’ve noticed the same psychological effects that fame yields upon a group of young adults as I did when I was a child,’ he said; pictured on March 23 in LA
Following their stint as child actors, the brothers went to college, and Cole graduated from New York University with an archaeology degree.
However, his manager had begged him to go through with a few more auditions after graduation, after which point he could give up on acting forever if he wanted.
It turned out to be fortuitous, as he nabbed his main cast role on Riverdale.
‘I started acting when I was so young that I hadn’t actually attempted, as an adult, to think about if I really enjoyed performance,’ he admitted while speaking remotely from Vancouver, Canada, where Riverdale is filmed.
‘When I returned, I reminded myself that I do very much love the art of acting. But I still have a very complicated relationship to celebrity culture.’
Back at it: Cole got his Riverdale role after graduation from NYU with an archaeology degree, when his manager begged him to do one last round of auditions before giving up forever; still from Riverdale
Cole also spoke about an Instagram account he created to give himself a sense of ‘agency’ by snapping photos of people trying to take his picture in public without drawing attention.
‘It was an attempt to go, “Hey, I actually have agency in the situation, too,”‘ he said. ‘It helped me a lot.’
The former child star also responded to fan speculation that he wasn’t happy about Riverdale getting renwed for a seventh season.
‘It’s not completely accurate,’ he responded after laughing. ‘One, because I’ve just assumed we’re going to see the finality of our [seven-season] contracts. Two, I think the internet assumes — because of how insane our show is — that we’re probably doing a bit worse than we actually are.
No thanks: He shot down the idea of doing a Suite Life reboot. ‘I’m just a big believer that if something is beautiful in the past, you should let it stay beautiful,’ he said; seen in 2019 in San Diego, Calif.
‘It’s easy to forget that people love the show. And I do think it’s going to be much more appreciated in 10 years than it is right now. It would be pretty pompous of me to say that another season of financial stability is not something that would be appealing. Though I’m not going to lie. The memes do make me laugh,’ he said.
Cole concluded his interview by shutting down the possibility of a Suite Life reboot with his brother.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever return to that. Not that I have a problem with other people doing the reboots thing. I’m just a big believer that if something is beautiful in the past, you should let it stay beautiful,’ he shared.
‘To bring it into the future feels a bit like reheating a really good, fresh meal in the microwave. It would be hard to be in my 30s and go [in a deep growl], “Zack and Cody are back, man!”‘