The real reason you don't hear from Dylan Sprouse anymore

Once upon a time, there were antics. On March 18, 2005, a zany new show called The Suite Life of Zack and Cody premiered on Disney Channel, introducing millions of squealing tweens to real-life twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse. For three seasons, Dylan and Cole played scrappy brothers living in the fictitious Tipton Hotel with their lounge-singer mom. By 2006, CBS was already referring to them as "big stars and even heartthrobs," despite the fact that they were only 13.

In 2008, the show morphed into the seasick-inducing spin-off The Suite Life on Deck, which transported the high jinks to a luxury cruise ship called the S.S. Tipton. According to Entertainment Weekly, the Sprouse Brothers walked away from that show in 2011 in order to both attend New York University. After that, it became trickier to keep an eye on them. Cole has since resurfaced in mainstream fare like The CW's Archie-inspired Riverdale (where he plays Jughead), but Dylan has proven to be a bit more elusive. 

Although you might not hear from Dylan anymore, he's still out there ... making a ghostly cameo in Camila Cabello's "Consequences" music video, making mead, and immersing himself in video game culture. Let's play a quick game of catch-up with the former child star.

He's been kissing Camila Cabello

In August 2018, Dylan Sprouse revealed on Instagram that he'd been working on "a secret project" with pop star Camila Cabello (via Teen Vogue). It turned out to be an appearance in the music video for Cabello's single "Consequences," which was posted to YouTube in October 2018. The lushly-produced video begins with Cabello taking a brisk stroll through Central Park in Fall, clearly lost in reverie, but there's a problem: Her stately constitutional keeps getting interrupted by a very handsome ghost. (They tuck in their shirts on The Other Side, by the way.) The specter taunts Cabello with memories of some bygone romance, tinkling on a ghostly piano, getting boozy and debauched, and even making a harsh winter suddenly descend upon Manhattan. Cabello and this eldritch hunk make out several times, and the whole thing is quite effectively bittersweet.

In case you haven't guessed, the supernatural entity is played by Dylan Sprouse — a fact that could easily be lost on some of his old-school fans. In a tweet that finds Cabello laboriously opening up about her artistic process, the singer makes sure to include a shout-out to Sprouse: "My videos are pretty much what the inside of my brain looks like. This is what it looked like in my brain while I was trying to move on. Thank you @dylansprouse for being amazing and wanting to be in my video." 

​He worked in an East Village coffee shop

People can be unkind when a well-known actor is discovered working a non-actorly gig. (Just ask Cosby Show alum Geoffrey Owens.) Dylan Sprouse learned this the hard way when, in 2013, he was found whipping up lattes in the East Village's Mudspot Café & Restaurant. (As the Daily Mail inelegantly put it: "Former Disney star forced to deny he's broke after being photographed working as restaurant host.") Vulture even reported that his presence at the coffee shop "startled" several customers.

"I think they were just confused," Sprouse said, explaining that he "was just doing what I impulsively thought I needed to do. And I knew I'd have a great time doing it." He claims more than a few customers approached him like: "'You must have f****d up.'" But his reasons for working at the shop were far from salacious. In 2013, he told Access Online he was interested in learning more about the restaurant industry. He also needed "some pocket cash on the side to pay off my video game habits."

"Popular media dictates that anything besides acting is a step down," he told the entertainment site, adding: "I personally love to stay busy and keep my work ethic up, and I thought this was a really cool opportunity to do that."

He studied at NYU

In May 2015, Dylan and Cole Sprouse graduated with honors from NYU (via E! Online.) During his time at the university, Dylan primarily studied "video-game design, creative writing and figurative painting," according to the New York Post. On graduation day, Dylan shared photos of he and Cole decked out in billowy gowns and caps with gold tassels. "Smarter better faster stronger," Dylan wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. "Finished NYU now on to the next."

Dylan's college experience was an unusual one. He certainly didn't waltz through the hallways undetected. In September 2015, Seventeen published an article entitled: "What Happens When Your Celeb Crush Lives in the Dorm Room Next to Yours." The piece detailed a certain Hannah Orenstein's experiences "shar[ing] a wall with Dylan Sprouse in college." The contents don't exactly constitute a bombshell: "He hung out with his roommates a lot and liked to listen to music," Orenstein writes, noting that Dylan "didn't throw parties or have a parade of girls over." However, he did play "video games late at night." So... there's that.

He's being selective

No wonder Dylan Sprouse didn't come crawling back to Hollywood right after graduating college. Both he and his brother, Cole, have been acting, quite literally, since they were in diapers. In fact, People reports they'd both starred in diaper commercials even before their first birthdays. The two brothers also took turns playing a 5-year-old orphan in Adam Sandler's 1999 hit Big Daddy, and they both played the role of Patrick Kelly on ABC's Grace Under Fire for five seasons. That's an awful lot of middling mainstream fare for one lifetime, let alone two.

"The project that I do next needs to be good or the character needs to be something different from what I've done before," Dylan wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post from June 2016 (via E! Online.)  At the time, he was setting his sights on bigger game — projects that were somehow more "provocative" than, say, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. "It's actually the only thing I stress about," he wrote. "What thing do I have to show people I'm doing next? What legacy am I leaving?"

He's a 'party boy'

Nov. 4, 2017 must have been a slow day in the world of women's fashion. That's when editors at W magazine let their imaginations run wild and decreed: "Dylan Sprouse is New York's Newest Party Boy." Just like that. Apparently, it doesn't take a great deal of effort (or partying) to become "New York's Newest Party Boy." In W's estimation, Sprouse had officially found "an exciting new gig" as a "popular party guest." How else to explain why he put on a wig and passed through the Fabulous Fair Fund thrown by philanthropist and model Natalia Vodianova?

The following Monday, Sprouse reportedly attended both a screening of Thor: Ragnarok and an after-party, both hosted by Cinema Society. The next night, the former child star was allegedly spotted at a Halloween party thrown at The Public. So there you have it: In order to qualify for the title of "New York's Newest Party Person," just attend two parties, an after-party, a screening, and you're done.

He's a big gamer

In 2012, a budding journo at NYU Local tailed Dylan Sprouse as he went about his day as an NYU student. He took the cub reporter to Mudspot Café & Restaurant, where he zippily waxed poetic on the myriad delights of video games: "With video games, everything is the narrative. If you think about it, the way you design it is like mechanics, dynamics, and then aesthetics..." In case we haven't already smacked you upside the head with this particular bit of biography, Dylan Sprouse is obsessed with video games. In January 2018, he told Wonderland he's been "hacking or breaking games down and looking at their scripts and modifying files since I was 14." 

According to Vulture, he's been contentedly immersing himself in gaming culture for many years. As of December 2017, Sprouse was lending his voice to an RPG video game, gleefully playing and dissecting Dungeons & Dragons (and posting such adventures on YouTube and Twitch), and making some leeway on his own fantasy series — an epic adventure set in "ninth-century Scandinavia" that involves characters with unwieldy names such as Kveldulf. 

He's being purposefully obtuse, career-wise

If Dylan Sprouse hasn't been on your radar lately, that's partially by design. He seems to innately gravitate towards left-field projects, perhaps because he's been wholly submerged in the mainstream for the better part of his life. Talking about his twin brother Cole and his ongoing stint on The CW's Riverdale, Dylan told Vulture: "I think Cole's in a place where he's very happy right now, whereas I would be happiest doing more films with a lower budget." 

His recent projects reflect his interest in art that's "independent, expressive, [and] really small-scale." In June 2018, Flaunt reported that Dylan was co-starring with the likes of Jack Kilmer, Johnny Whitworth, and Suki Waterhouse in Eva Doležalová's' short film Carte Blanche, which the magazine described as "a surrealist exploration of the psychology of sudden fame." 

In the 2017 film Dismissed, Dylan portrays a sociopathic student willing to do whatever it takes to get that gold star. Meanwhile, the quirky rom-com Banana Split finds him playing a young man who falls in love with his best friend (played by Hannah Marks, pictured left.) As he told Vulture: "I tend to enjoy roles that I very closely identify with: fringe people and complicated characters, who might even be bad guys."

​He opened a meadery in Brooklyn, because he's 'spiritual' like that

If you happen to find yourself in New York City, consider taking the L train to Williamsburg to idle away a few hours at All-Wise Meadery, the brewery co-founded by a certain Dylan Sprouse. "I don't think there was a moment from 17 years old up until now that I have not had [something] brewing in my home," he told the New York Post in May 2018, revealing that his father cultivated this arcane interest by buying his son a home-brewing kit when he was 16.

To hear him say it, Dylan will be on the premises quite a bit: "I will be hands-on every day," he assured the Post, explaining that he wanted All-Wise Meadery to be his primary source of income. That way, he'd be able to focus on taking more left-of-center roles in projects that are "more artistically in [his] ballpark." For the foreseeable future, Sprouse intends to make lots and lots of mead: Mead gingerly infused with oolong tea; mead that's been assiduously aged with oak; mead, mead, mead. "The things that you do are your prayer," he sagaciously told the Post. "Having my friends and loved ones drink and talk and be merry is spiritual, to me." 

​He's been dating Barbara Palvin

On Oct. 3, 2018, editors at Refinery29 gently informed their readership that "We Need To Talk About Dylan Sprouse & Barbara Palvin." Here's why it was so important that we immediately drop everything and have this discussion: It looked like Sprouse was officially "in a very cute relationship" with Palvin, a Hungarian model who was decreed "Rookie of the Year" by Sports Illustrated back in 2016.

Refinery29 even went the extra mile by painstakingly scouring Barbara Palvin's Instagram account, masterfully unearthing some provocative clues as to how the relationship was playing out. This expertly engineered content scrub revealed such morsels as: "Palvin's Instagram is full of pics with her and her guy." Somehow, the publication even figured out that "Sprouse officially made the grid in August." Similarly, pop-culture sleuths over at Cosmopolitan revealed that the couple was "not holding back on the canoodling" while attending the Harper's Bazaar ICONS party in September 2008. Sounds pretty raunchy, but that's Cosmo for you.

​Don't ask him what he's been up to

Dylan Sprouse is tired of all the questions. "It's a weird thing to be asked 'what are you doing now?'" he confessed in an unusually verbose, now-deleted Instagram post from June 2016 (via E! Online.) "Normally I wouldn't think twice," he wrote, admitting that he decided to speak up because he'd been asked this particular question "4 times" that day. He wished he could satisfy fans' ghoulish curiosity with an honest answer. That way, he could say: "[I've been] enjoying myself by relaxing, traveling, consuming media, and continuing to learn." 

For whatever reason, people never find that response quite delicious enough: "The truth is that unless I'm doing something bigger and better than what I've previously done, people deem it regressive," he said. So whether he's telling folks about the scripts he's been working on or opening up about his brewery, the results are pretty much the same: People just "furl their brow and ask, 'So no more acting then?'"

Serious question: Is Dylan Sprouse the only person who realizes The Suite Life of Zack and Cody isn't the toughest act to follow?