Cole Sprouse is living in the moment

Cole Sprouse is living in the moment

Visiting Manila as Bench’s newest Global Benchsetter, the ‘Riverdale’ star talks about the right time for a comeback, living in the present tense, and the importance of a good denim jacket.

It’s annoying to discover how regular a guy Cole Sprouse really is. You imagine a star, but you meet a person so likeable, he might as well be someone you meet in your Friday night watering hole. (He has, in fact, hung out in Poblacion.)

Cole Sprouse is so regular, and this is perhaps the highest compliment you can pay him: given his years in front of the camera, Cole has little of the trappings of a big star. He’s talented and charming — his successful take on Jughead in Riverdale, not to mention his years on Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, are proof enough — but his appeal perhaps lies in his plainness, his honest-to-god truth that he’s just like us. Just maybe a hundred times better looking.

It was perhaps this that made him an ideal Bench endorser, a brand that prides itself in having a global presence while maintaining a close affinity to its local roots. Last April 20, Cole visited Manila to the delight of thousands. In fact, his mall visits had to be moved to bigger venues in order to accommodate more fans who wanted to see him up close. And to think that these aren’t just fans who grew up with him through Disney, or those who saw him as Adam Sandler’s pseudo son in Big Daddy (a role he shared with his brother, Dylan.) Some of these people are getting to know Cole Sprouse, the adult, and are just as charmed as many of those who knew him as a much younger actor.

During Cole’s brief Manila visit, we tried to figure out what success is, and how that idea still mystifies him until today. Young STAR sits down with the Riverdale star and discovers how Cole Sprouse’s normality might just be the secret to his enduring celebrity.

Ain’t no camera duel: We sat down with the Riverdale star to talk youth, collaboration, and style.

YOUNG STAR: Hey, Cole. When Bench announced early this year that you were going to be the new face of brand, people here went a little crazy.

COLE SPROUSE: It was very flattering.


Were you aware of the size of your fanbase here in Manila?

I was, and when I had first signed up with Bench, by that point I had acknowledged that I had a large fan base out here, and that the show is well-liked here. It kind of demanded that I come out here. And I caught the travel bug a long time ago. Any chance I get, I’d love to travel.


You did this piece for Condé Nast Traveler where you traveled via train a few years ago. You wrote a really great line about an older gentlemen as “a testament to the stubbornness of youth.” In what ways are you still stubborn about your own youth?

I think when it applied to him, there was something about Mr. Toots — that’s a great last name — there was something about the nature of his age and putting on a suit every day. Riding this train was a direct affront to his mortality. And I think for me, I’ve — especially after college — started living, or at least tried to, live with some sort of presentness. I think oftentimes, the key quality of youth… you know, when you think about your own childhood and you think about how present you were all the time. There was really no future tense as a child, you’re not overthinking. For me, the quality of youth is really presentness, and I’ve been trying to exercise that presentness.

Is that also what you were thinking of when you decided to return to acting? You did say in interview before that you were apprehensive about it. 

Yes, I realize that my apprehension was bound within a future tense. The second I was able to go by the wind and let it be present, I just sort of followed where I was marching to. I ended up really getting involved in a wonderful experience.

Did it feel like it was the right time?

I think it’s an illusion to think that there’s a right time. We complicate choices in our lives by saying things like, “Is this the right time for me?” “Is this supposed to happen?” And the truth is, you’re often not afforded the luxury of that choice. That choice is you living within a sort of future/past tense. When you kind of resign yourself to presentness or that kind of lifestyle, you resign the notion of the right or wrong choice. You just sort of accept the narrative that it is.



I sound like I meditate a lot or something. I don’t! I’m the most high-stressed person ever. I should really practice what I preach over here. (Laughs)


Well, you have been really busy. Riverdale just released its second season. Given the show’s immense popularity, what do you think made it — and your coming back — so successful?

I think it was one of those things where people understood the characters and had known the characters for such a long time. It wasn’t necessarily a formula, it was just quality. I mean, really, entertainment of any form, the stuff that sticks is the stuff that’s good. That’s usually how it is. You know, we tried very, very hard to make a show that people enjoyed, that simultaneously acknowledged what it was, that sort of poked fun at the genre. We all were hungry for the success of the show that we pushed ourselves consistently to try and convince people that this was what they wanted to watch.

Certified dreamboat: The former Disney star gets candid about working on Riverdale.

You’ve been in the business for most of your life. Now that you’re an adult, has it been easier to take on new projects?

A little bit, but you know it’s the notion of choice… it’s not like I’m sitting there with all the scripts on the table and saying, (Puts on cartoon villain voice) “Yes! That one. No, not that one! That one’s not of my quality.”


In that voice.

In that exact voice, with a twisty mustache. And a cup of tea. I don’t know why tea. It’s privilege to be able to say, “Yeah, I want that project.” The truth is I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to do projects at all, and to resonate with a wider audience on something like Riverdale or hopefully with this movie that I’m doing during this hiatus. I feel flattered that companies would reach out and say, “Hey we trust you, let’s make this thing work.” I truly think when you resonate with a project as an actor and it kind of makes you nervous, if there’s a part of you that really wants to do it, then you should. If a project doesn’t work, or people don’t enjoy it, then they don’t enjoy it and you move on to the next one. The notion of failure in the industry it’s not really… unless you’re just a horrible person, it’s not really something that sticks.


Moving on from your work as an actor, you’re also a professional photographer, and what I think is so great about your photos is that there’s a strong narrative to them. There’s also a sense of style. When you take photos, do you think of how clothes and fashion, in a broader sense, add to the story in a photo?

Yes, absolutely. To me, problematically enough, I’m not super well-versed in the kind of dialogue in fashion that most fashion photographers are. That’s cause I sort of fell into fashion photography. I was doing landscape work, I was doing travel photography before. But at the time I started doing that kind of fashion work, I was asking models to sort of take an adventure and bring their own clothes, stuff that resonated with them. And we were pick and choose the stuff that felt right. To me, it was mainly based on color palette and composition, how to style it within the shot. When I started doing commercial work and client-based work, I realized the true power of a really good stylist along with you. To me, the photographer is just one part of a collaboration. And the fashion is an equal part of that success.

Bench has a more casual, street kind of style. What is your favorite piece from Bench so far? How do you like wearing it or styling it for yourself?

It’s hard to say a favorite piece, because I really get to choose what I’d like from their store, so it’s not like, “This is the one I want!” I like the more casual looks. (Points to his jacket) There’s something about the old denim that feels kind of classic, all-American working class, sort of blue collar.


Is that how Bench appealed to you?

Well, the brand appealed to me for very many reasons, but yes, of course that influenced it as well.


Speaking of style, Riverdale has a really strong visual influence on a lot of young people now. I think every other young person here has been photographed under neon lights, in some diner somewhere. As a photographer, what do you think of that whole movement?

Before I answer the question I’d have to say, Pop’s as a set is the most beautiful set.


It’s just a set?

It’s a set. We shot in a diner originally, and then we built a one-for-one recreation of that diner that’s so convincing.


What reminds you that it’s not real?

Uh, the paycheck? (Laughs) I’m kidding. I mean, the job is to suspend the notion that it’s not real. I will say that the visual style of the show… I think at least, not only as a viewer but as someone who works there, the cinematography and visual style is probably the crown jewel of our program. I think it’s very flattering that you think it’s influenced other people, but that classic Americana Neo-noir look that we tried to sell is something beautiful. It’s not something we created, but something we used and capitalized upon to try to make the sort of visual underpinning of the show. I hope you guys could come to Vancouver, just so you can see the set.


It’s not even in America?

No, it’s in Canada.


KITKAT PAJARO (photographer): I was actually born there, in Vancouver.

Were you?


Yeah, she was born in that exact diner.

Yeah, in that small Rocko’s Diner. Yeah, it’s in Vancouver. It’s interesting that you pointed that out. Does that disappoint you?


No, not really. Maybe a little.

Yeah, maybe a little. But why, but why, but why?


It’s just that now you can’t make a Riverdale pilgrimage and see it for yourself.

I’m sure that one day, they’ll dismantle it and rebuild it in LA or something.


It won’t be as moody, though.

In LA? (Laughs) It will be, trust me.

Photos by Kitkat Pajaro
Special thanks to Bench 
#cover #movies #style #tv

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