Tragic Details About Cole And Dylan Sprouse

Cole and Dylan Sprouse are among the company of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Tia and Tamera Mowry as one of the most famous — and successful — sets of twins to come out of Hollywood in recent times. The entertainment industry's unique fascination with twins isn't that complex. They're viewed as profitable from a young age, especially since they can get around child labor laws by subbing in for each other; twins also bring about a fun, comedic appeal for audiences.

Cole and Dylan's twindom afforded them acting opportunities that eventually led to their meteoric success on the Disney Channel. Their hit show "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" and its spin-offs, "The Suite Life on Deck" and "The Suite Life Movie," made them regular fixtures on screens from 2005 to 2011. From the outside looking in, the Sprouse twins had a perfect life. But, if you've been following their careers, you'll know their upbringing wasn't as sweet as it seemed. They had a lot of mixed feelings about the entertainment industry, having been forced into it as children, and ultimately, they chose to take a step back from it after their Disney Channel days in pursuit of other opportunities.

There were periods of times when they retreated completely from the spotlight — not unlike the Olsen twins — but now they're back acting on their own terms. And, although they previously kept details of their personal lives very quiet, they've recently chosen to speak out about their experiences. Keep reading to uncover the tragic details about Cole and Dylan Sprouse.

The twins felt exploited as child actors

Cole Sprouse gave two unprecedented interviews in March 2023, where the typically private star peeled back the curtain on his and his brother's unconventional upbringing. First, he spoke on "Call Her Daddy" and then on "The Diary of a CEO." In both, he revealed that he and his twin brother Dylan Sprouse started working when they were eight months old, with their first gig being diaper commercials. He also confirmed that it wasn't a choice for them at that age, as they weren't conscious of what was going on.

So, how did their acting career start? "My mother needed an income," Cole Sprouse candidly told "Call Her Daddy" host Alex Cooper. He continued, explaining that the twins fell into the latter of two camps of child actors: "I think there's two types of kids within the child acting business. There's, like, the thespian children who choose to do it and then there's the working-class kids that, in our case, at least ... I mean, it started, really, as a means to put bread on the table."

Sprouse spoke out about this again, telling "The Diary of a CEO" host Steve Bartlett that there was definitely financial pressure, and it felt like their mother was living vicariously through their careers. He added that he looks back on his career with mixed emotions. Ultimately, he feels grateful for the level of financial security he was able to achieve by age 30, but admitted that to get there, he feels he and his brother traded the opportunity to have carefree childhoods.

Acting as kids took a toll on their mental health

There is a common discourse surrounding child actors which suggests that they either go off the rails, getting into alcohol, drugs or other illegal controversies, or make it out the other side unscathed. "Home Alone" star Macaulay Culkin is one of the most commonly discussed examples of how childhood fame can be destructive, but over the years, the names of Disney Channel stars like Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Shia LaBeouf have been added to the discussion.

Conversely, Cole and Dylan Sprouse are regarded to have transitioned out of child stardom without scandal. But, it's not that simple, according to Cole, who told The New York Times that "fame is a trauma" while staunchly defending other child stars who've grown up in the spotlight. Cole continued to say that the trauma of fame was something that he and Dylan experienced and noted that it's something that takes time to recover from. For them, it was their break from acting while they attended university. However, the effects of fame never really go away. "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. I just think people have an easier time hiding it when they're older," Cole admitted.

Their parents divorced and their dad got custody

Cole and Dylan Sprouse were born while their parents, Melanie Wright and Matthew Sprouse, were working abroad in the idyllic setting of Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy. Not long after, the new family of four moved to Switzerland before Wright brought the kids back to L.A. on her own. Although they tried to reconcile, it didn't last, and by the time the twins were five, their parents were divorced. They were primarily living with their mother, but eventually, the court had to step in and award their dad full custody while deeming Wright "unfit." By this time, everything Cole and Dylan had made from "Friends" and "Big Daddy" was gone because of Wright's mismanagement.

To this day, Cole Sprouse boasts a good relationship with his father. However, the same cannot be said of his mom, whom he has had very little contact with since. "As I've aged and I've looked back on a lot of the circumstances of that entire environment, I see a person that grapples with mental illness, drug abuse, but primarily narcissism. A wicked narcissism. The inability to perceive anything outside of your own perspective ... and that just doesn't work with being a mother," Cole revealed on "The Diary of a CEO."

Their complicated relationship with their mom in the present day

Cole and Dylan Sprouse have had a complicated relationship with their mom for as long as they can remember. While they have stayed quiet about it, Wright has continued to post on Instagram about her sons, claiming to be parenting from afar because they cut her off. However, the situation is definitely not that black and white, with Cole explaining it from his perspective on "Call Her Daddy." Speaking about his and Dylan's mom, he said: "In truth, she lost her mind. I think it was the consequence of some weird alchemy of addiction and mental instability, and it's probably the greatest wound in my life."

Despite this, he still feels a very strong connection to both his parents, which is something he will always struggle to reconcile with. He admitted he does miss the woman his mother was, and part of the reason he continues to act is to fulfill her vision for him. However, their relationship is non-existent now. Cole revealed: "Every once in a while she'll reach out to me ... some weird hieroglyphic text ... that I try to decipher and pinpoint where she is, but we have a very, very challenged relationship."

Cole and Dylan Sprouse stopped acting for a while after The Suite Life on Deck

Cole and Dylan Sprouse had been through a lot by the time they turned 18, and when their time on the Disney Channel came to an end in 2011, they needed a break. So, they stopped sending out audition tapes and sent out applications instead; college applications that is. The twins ended up attending NYU, with Cole studying archaeology and Dylan majoring in video game design.

After they graduated, Cole told E! that having a break from the industry is absolutely essential for child stars. It allowed him and his brother to return to entertainment on their own terms. Cole told "The Diary of a CEO" host Steve Bartlett that he was keen to take on roles that would be creatively fulfilling and fuel his passion for acting, even if they were not as high-paying as he was used to. Of course, he eventually struck gold with "Riverdale."

Meanwhile, Dylan expressed the desire to challenge himself with a role or project that was completely different from anything he'd done before (via E!). He has since taken on a series of voice roles and now fronts the "Beautiful Disaster" film franchise alongside Marvel star Virginia Gardner.

They faced intense media scrutiny

The Sprouse twins faced intense media scrutiny growing up under the Disney Channel spotlight. It became a bigger issue for them as they were going through their later teen years and dating more, even though they tried to do so privately.

While speaking on Alex Cooper's "Call Her Daddy," Cole detailed the criticism he personally struggled with the most, saying it came as a result of the squeaky-clean reputation Disney Channel had created for them. "There's this wholesome imagery that follows you around and as I have aged and come into my own advanced adult feelings of sexuality ... there's a bit of a fall from grace that occurs with that." As a self-proclaimed people-pleaser, Cole admitted that media scrutiny and criticism were difficult to deal with. Cole told The New York Times that when he resumed acting, it was because it's very much a great love and passion in his life, but he noted that he still struggles with celebrity culture and all the fame that comes with it. 

Dylan was out of the spotlight than his brother — even working in a coffee shop to have a break from the entertainment industry. But no matter what he was doing he faced intense media scrutiny and recalls being laughed at as it was seen as a step down from acting. Like his brother though, acting is his passion, and despite his extended break he told Teen Vogue that by stepping away, he reignited his desire to act.

Dylan Sprouse's personal photos were leaked online

In 2013, at age 21, Dylan Sprouse joined the growing list of celebs (including Disney Channel alum Vanessa Hudgens) whose personal photos were leaked online. Multiple outlets reported the news that Sprouse's photos had been leaked on Tumblr. Before long, the two photos were all over the internet. In the first picture, Sprouse flexed his muscles and showed off his physique in nothing but white boxers, and in the second photo, he was completely naked, though his face had been partially cropped out of the shot.

In response to the pictures getting leaked and the comments that came as a result, Sprouse tweeted: "Whoops, guess I'm not 14 and fat anymore." He followed his off-hand comment with another tweet, in which he showed remorse and took responsibility for his actions. "I messed up ... but I'd be a fool not to own up to it. Got to move past it, I suppose." According to E!, Sprouse also posted a response on Tumblr, which suggested he was able to find a small bit of comfort in the difficult situation. "Thanks for making me laugh through all of this," he wrote.

The twins were the victims of a Twitter hack

In 2019, the Sprouse twins were victims of a calculated, two-part Twitter hack. First, Dylan's account was targeted. His account was taken over and began sending out racist messages, linking to two other accounts, which were later suspended, per The Wrap. About an hour later, the tweets were deleted, and soon after, he shared that he had gained back control of his account. "Got hacked obviously ... as if these idiots didn't make it easy enough to tell," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. Away in Tokyo with his partner Barbara Palvin, Sprouse shared that he was working on the issue, suggesting it may have been caused by an issue relating to his cell service provider. However, around the same time, Cole Sprouse's account was also targeted, and started promoting similar accounts before the actor was able to regain control.

This isn't the first time the "Riverdale" star has been the victim of a Twitter hack. In 2018, after winning choice male hottie at the Teen Choice Awards, an unknown Hacker took over his account. In response, his then-girlfriend Lili Reinhart confirmed the hack in a tweet of her own (via Seventeen). However, the hacker retaliated by taking control of her account as well. The hacker then announced that they also had access to her iCloud and tweeted out what they claimed was a topless photo of the star, but this was later proved to be fake. Cole had the last laugh online, though, by joking the photo was of him. 

Cole Sprouse's difficult breakup with Riverdale co-star Lili Reinhart

Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart thrilled "Riverdale" fans when they confirmed "Bughead" was going strong in real life. The co-stars dated from 2017 to 2019, which was from the early days of the show until around Season 4. However, they didn't publicly announce their breakup right away, and Sprouse admitted on "Call Her Daddy" that he was later photographed dating other women. The rumors and gossip that circulated afterward were detrimental to his mental health.

While many saw them as the perfect couple, Sprouse admitted their relationship ended on a difficult note. "We both did quite a bit of damage to each other," he said on the podcast. The ending of their relationship was mutual, the Disney Channel star explained but noted that he was the one who left in the end. Speaking candidly, he added: "I think if I had loved myself a little more, I probably, I probably would have left a little earlier, but I just felt like I had to take care of a lot of people around me, which was not good for me."

Of course, continuing to work together after a breakup wasn't easy either, as they weren't able to get the space they needed to process and move on. Eventually, they moved through it and found their way back to friendship.

The twins probably won't work together again

If you've watched "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," you'll know how dynamic Cole and Dylan Sprouse can be when they work together. Sadly for their fans, their time on screen together came to a blistering halt in the early 2010s after "The Suite Life Movie" in 2011 and a brief appearance as themselves on "So Random!" the following year.

Continuing to break the hearts of Disney Channel fans, Cole confirmed to The New York Times that there's definitely no "Suite Life" reunion on the horizon, even with the current popularity of reboots. And, to add insult to injury, Dylan later told Us Weekly that they'll probably never act together again on anything. "Twin movies are never good! That's just the universal truth I think the universe has given to us," he said.

However, he then backtracked slightly and teased that the only way they'd reunite on screen was if they created a project together. "It's more likely that I will write something for us to work in together, rather than someone approach us ... so if we can find the right thing then, yeah," Dylan said.

In the meantime, they continue to go through life together off-screen. They remain as close as ever, with Cole serving as the best man at Dylan's wedding to Barbara Palvin in July 2023.