Wonderland.

DYLAN SPROUSE

A mead-brewing, video-gaming, ranch-loving actor. He’s back in myriad forms.

All clothing LOUIS VUITTON Spring/Summer 2018 Pre-collection

“Most of the time I set up meetings over a beer,” says Dylan Sprouse. I disappointedly look down at our two peppermint teas and offer to salvage the evening by going elsewhere. I picked a pointedly neutral location, but the 25-year-old actor has arrived at our interview surprisingly without a minder or management.

Named by W Magazine as “New York’s newest party boy”, (Sprouse loves “talking”, “casually drinking with people”, “dancing” and most importantly, is “newly single”) I imagine we could’ve run riot on west London, crashing private views and getting thrown out of Mahiki, but the ex-Suite Life of Zack and Cody star has been leading a considerably tamer existence while he’s been in the capital for the week. Yesterday, his Instagram stories were taken over by the slightly crusty taxidermy creatures at the Natural History Museum. Tonight, he’s going to drink beers and eat fish and chips with a friend in Putney, tourist style. Nothing tabloid worthy.

In fact, Sprouse and his twin brother Cole have been out of the news for a while, swapping careers with Disney for classes at NYU. Since he was last seen on screen, Sprouse has gotten a degree in Video Game Design, and like any respectable undergraduate, grown out his hair to a suitably hippyish shoulder-length. The release of psychological thriller Dismissed in November marked his return to acting and by chance, was the first script he read post-university.

“I loved it,” he smiles. “It was very different from anything I’ve ever done. I haven’t played such a spooky character.” Sprouse’s comeback is in the form of Lucas, an honour student who’s awarded a B+ (shock horror) at a new school and begins to question his teacher’s capabilities to the point of destruction. He could take notes on some of the video design kids he went to school with, he tells me, but a lot of the character was admittedly based on his own “obsessive tendencies”.

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Although Sprouse watched YouTube clips of Charles Manson as research for the role, he insists Lucas isn’t “a super psychopath”. “Once you see into his home life a little bit, you understand some of his reasoning in an interesting way; him being so obsessed and his drive to be that much of a perfectionist comes from a desire to almost escape. I think I really resonated with that and thought it was an interesting empathy point for a lot of students especially immigrant students, making a claim for themselves in the States.”

Due in another leading role in 2018, Sprouse joined newcomer Eva Doležalová’s latest project around the same time he signed on for Dismissed. “Carte Blanche is a short, so definitely more arthouse,” he explains. The film details the downfall of his character — a Hollywood star called Gideon Blake — over the course of an evening. While Doležalová’s name is relatively unknown, as a protégé of Gaspar Noé, all industry eyes are on her next move and as a result, she’s scored an all-star heartthrob cast in Jack Kilmer, Jordan Barrett and of course, Sprouse.

Combining the skills he’s been honing since he started acting aged six with his love of gaming and his degree, Sprouse is in London to record a character voiceover for Neo-Tokyo game, Reborn. “You just scream a lot,” he smirks, explaining he’s bound by an NDA to keep details on lock. “I’m trying not to smoke a cigarette before I go to work… It’s a fantasy game so I’m doing a typical fantasy role and it’s awesome, I love fantasy movies too.” Although a lot of the lines are limited to stage directions of “death scream” or “a grunt”, it’s a hefty job with 500 lines to be performed in a recording studio, but his hyperactive enthusiasm and those aforementioned “obsessive tendencies” make it clear this is Sprouse’s passion.

“I’ve been hacking or breaking games down and looking at their scripts and modifying files since I was 14…” he explains. “For a long time my brother and I had very un-attentive parents so we used playing and hanging out with each other almost like parenting. Disney Channel in that way also very much resonates with a lot of people. Video games were that for us, so for me, video games have always had a really, really close place in my heart and in a weird way, I wanna give back to that.”

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Sprouse puts his polymathic personality down to his ADHD, but also argues his whole generation was diagnosed with attention deficit disorders to sell more Ritalin. Either way, his mastership of multiple mediums — just like his photographer-cum-actor twin brother — seems almost unfair.

Opening All Wise Meadery in Brooklyn with two friends in the not-so-distant future, Sprouse’s interest in gaming and historic fermented honey alcohol would usually point to a vitamin D deprived geek. Maybe he is a little geeky, but he’s rebranding the drink as a contemporary craft: mead, but make it fashion. “I’ve been doing it for eight years,” he tells me. “I started because I wanted to drink as a young man and I wanted to get my friends drunk too.” A good enough reason if I ever heard one.

While W’s declaration of Sprouse as a “party boy” is certainly true with a college career of mead parties behind him, he’s not limiting himself to the exclusive upper echelons of Manhattan’s scene just yet. I crawl his Twitter before we meet. It’s essentially a fan account for Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. The most excited he gets during the entirety of our conversation, is when he tells me Hidden Valley are releasing a keg — that’s right, a KEG — of ranch for the holidays. “If you gave me a keg of fucking ranch I would carry it on my back like a baby papoose,” he guffaws. He was even invited to a ranch soirée on the basis of his continued public proclamations of adoration… I have to ask.

“The only way I know how to describe it,” he begins, “I think it’s what Valhalla is. It was dancing, free pizza, unlimited ranch dressing and unlimited free beer… Just beautiful people consuming ranch… Long story short, I think if you go anywhere when you die, that’s where I’m going.” There you have it. Desperate to get NYC’s most wanted socialite at your party? Ranch on tap is all you need.

Taken from the Winter 17/18 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.

All clothing LOUIS VUITTON Spring/Summer 2018 Pre-collection

Photography
Ben Rayner
Fashion
Lisa Jarvis
Words
Lily Walker
Grooming
Ann Benjamas at Wilhelmia Artists using Armani Beauty, Glossier, Bobbi Brown and Living Proof
Thanks to
Dune Studios New York
DYLAN SPROUSE

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