Wonderland.

Cole Sprouse

The child star turned creative polymath on mastering multiple platforms.

All clothing COLE’S OWN

“I went over to California from New York for a single week and I told my manager, ‘If I don’t book anything this pilot season I’m never coming back to this!’” Cole Sprouse is mimicking a faux-stern tone over the phone from La La Land. In that all important week, the 24-year-old actor won a leading role on Riverdale, this year’s hyper-saturated reimagining of Archie comics. “I just pulled the trigger on it and said, ‘Alright, fuck it, let’s see how it goes.’”

The first show drew in a 1.3 million strong audience in the United States and it’s easy to see why: in just the debut episode, there’s sex, murder and a new girl in town. The teen-friendly series follows the mysterious death of the dreamboat high school quarterback, Jason Blossom. Sprouse plays the enigmatic underdog and narrator-cum-investigator of the tale, Jughead, who’s apparently not so unlike himself.

“It felt like a role that I could really dive into,” he says of the endearingly nerdy but sensitive outsider. “Of course I’m pulling off of lived experience for the character as well.” Picturing the likes of Sprouse as an awkward social outcast is near impossible (he has 3.7 million Twitter followers for starters) but he’s quick to eradicate that illusion. “There comes a real loneliness in celebrity where you’re constantly told you’re part of an out group in your own society,” he tells me frankly, referring to his rise to fame as a Disney darling.

Starring alongside his identical twin brother Dylan in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Sprouse’s adolescence was far from the high-gloss fantasy you’d imagine. Finishing the show at 18, a lifetime spent in the biz prompted his five year departure from our screens. “We were at this point of recognisability where we couldn’t even walk around anymore,” he tells me, confessing, “I was really socially anxious and strange.” Despite being warned it was “career suicide”, the twins headed to NYU, where Sprouse completed a degree in archaeological sciences (told you he was nerdy).

(LEFT) Jacket and trousers SAINT LAURENT by ANTHONY VACCARELLO, vest COLE’S OWN
(RIGHT) All clothing SAINT LAURENT by ANTHONY VACCARELLO

After heading to university “desperate to fade out”, he’s transparent about how hesitant he was to return to a lifestyle he’d bid farewell to. “This whole last year and a half has been a process of me discovering if this is still the right choice or not,” he admits. “I don’t think I’ll ever be completely satis ed with the answer, because I have an entire lifetime of critical thinking to complicate why this choice is so big and it comes from childhood and all this, yada yada yada…” he frantically but sweetly dismisses his own psychoanalysis before concluding, “I felt ready for it and that’s an important indicator.”

For now, he’s signed on to Riverdale for another season. “I think having a season two affords the actors and the writers on this show a lot more flexibility in being able to express what we feel is best for the characters and find the narratives,” Sprouse says earnestly. If you’re reading this after May, the show will have reached what I can only hope is an explosive climax. I’m forecasting cat-fights, pop culture referencing one liners (Beyoncé and Jay Z come up a lot in the script) and enough plot twists to make you feel seasick.

Who killed Jason Blossom? I can’t say for sure, but the announcement of another run of Riverdale can only mean more compelling complications. “I assume season two is going to be a lot weirder than season one,” teases Sprouse, “because of the entire cast and writing; we’re all quite strange people and I think we’ll see a lot more strange narratives being exed. There’s a lot more con dence from the big wigs!”

Away from Riverdale, just how “strange” Sprouse is unveils on social media. His “satirical” Instagram account, @camera_duels – which has 1.4 million followers and a verified blue tick – is Sprouse’s platform to shame any privacy-invaders who try to take a picture of him in public on the sly. Accompanied by acerbic put downs, it’s a gallery of photos of people taking photos of him. It’s all very meta and again, adorably nerdy.

(LEFT) All clothing COLE’S OWN
(RIGHT) All clothing SAINT LAURENT by ANTHONY VACCARELLO

“It started because I was pissed off,” he explains. “I try to approach a lot of the strange trappings of celebrity and the culture with comedy… The actions and feelings and vibes that people put off when they’re about to do something like that is so obvious and comical that it begs a duel.” What Sprouse didn’t anticipate was that a spot on the account would become coveted and eventually his stealthy fans turned shameless. “That was an oversight on my behalf,” he smirks. “I should have seen that coming!”

His personal account (clocking up 5.4 million followers) is far from satirical, exhibiting his efforts as a photographer and capturing everything from his Riverdale co-stars, to high fashion editorials and far-off landscapes. With so many hours spent behind the camera, could a directorial debut be his next creative pursuit? “I’ve considered it very heavily because I’ve had the encouragement of a lot of people,” answers Sprouse, revealing his first effort might be an autobiographical one. “I think my brother and I’s upbringing is reserved for such a small percentage… Child stardom since you’re eight months old is something that’s very, very rare. The narratives that have come out of that between my brother and I, I feel they deserve a more public discussion but I think I have a lot to learn and I need to take the time educate myself.”

“We’ll see,” he concludes after another of his candid monologues that I’ve learnt are his signature in our half an hour call. “I’m very specific and critical of myself so if I do come out with something, it’s got to be up to a standard that I’m sure I approve of. We’ll see!” Forget about who killed Jason Blossom, millions (and me) will want to peer into the life of Cole Sprouse.

Taken from the Summer 17 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.

Photography
Charlotte Hadden
Fashion
Warren Leech
Words
Lily Walker
Hair
Amber Duarte at Walter Schupfer Agency using Bumble and Bumble
Fashion Assistant
Emily Moiseve
Cole Sprouse

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