Why Hollywood won't cast the Sprouse twins anymore

While some child stars implode and others continue to shine, the Sprouse twins have fallen way below the radar. Since starring on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (2005—2008), their worlds haven't been rife with scandal, but they haven't exactly been rich with artistic success either. So why won't Hollywood cast Dylan and Cole Sprouse anymore? You're about to find out.

Dylan tarnished his G-rated image

Dylan didn't do his career any favors when he reportedly sexted a lady friend some nude photos that found their way online in December 2013 after that lady became an ex-girlfriend. Dylan gallantly owned up to the images via some clever Twitter posts. "Whoops, guess I'm not 14 and fat anymore," said one of his tweets. Even his brother got in on the action, tweeting, "Cold in that bathroom huh?"

Though the debacle was funny to lots of folks, Dylan's unforeseen centerfold certainly didn't jive with Disney's wholesome family image. Network execs are well-connected, so disappointing Disney may have damaged Dylan's future prospects in the biz and even hampered his brother by association.

Did Dylan lose all of his money?

In September 2013, the rumor mill went wild when Dylan was spotted working as a host in a New York City restaurant. The former child star was accused of having blown through his Suite Life money and criticized for taking a job in the service industry.

Dylan defended himself and his work ethic on Tumblr, turning the criticism on his critics (via TV Guide). "To clear up the air (which is admittedly pretty rude), I did not take this job because I 'lost all my money,'" he said. "I am financially secure, and took this job as a way to primarily feed my over bountiful video game addiction…I feel most comfortable when I'm working and doing something, to criticize someone of that is pretty odd. I will potentially return to acting someday, but in no way do I think any experience is a step down for me, but rather a new step in another direction."

While fans threw their support behind Dylan in this battle, Hollywood seemed none too pleased that he followed up his starring sitcom role with a modest everyman's gig.

They're timeless (but not in the good way)

When one thinks of the Sprouse twins, they are immediately drawn back to the '00s—a time when Cyrus didn't know how to twerk and the Jonas Brothers hadn't hit puberty. Of course, a lot has changed since then. The Sprouse brothers turned 24 in 2016, yet people still think of them as those adorably awkward teenagers who had zany adventures in a fancy hotel suite in Boston. The twins have essentially become frozen in time.

That could wind up working to their advantage. Nostalgia is all the rage right now, especially on the Disney Channel, where Boy Meets World (1993—2000) re-morphed itself into Girl Meets World (2014—2017) decades later. If Girl Meets World could run for three season, who's to say a Zack and Cody reboot couldn't take off?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2WnpRBBmaA

They haven't always looked back on their careers fondly

The Sprouse twins made headlines in Oct. 2016 when a fan tweeted them to let them know they had found an old DVD copy of their soccer-themed movie, Just 4 Kicks, in their garage. "Right where it belongs," Dylan replied. To which Cole added: "Did you misspell garbage[?]" Who knows if they feel this way about all of their old movies? And, let's be honest, their opinion isn't exactly wrong. Still, if you wan't to stay active in Hollywood, it's probably not a great idea to bite the hand that once fed you.

The Suite Life was a long time ago

Here's a fact that will make you feel old: The Suite Life of Zack & Cody premiered in March 2005. Sure, the show's subsequent spin-off series and TV movie took the franchise through 2011, but by Hollywood standards, it's been a long time since the twins have worked in showbiz.

Staying out of the spotlight that long can be tough for any actor, but it's especially true if you're a child star. Either you strike while the iron's hot, as fellow Disney Channel alums Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez did so effectively, or you risk surviving only in the memories of a generation who watched you in reruns on summer vacation. Unfortunately, the latter has happened for the Sprouse twins. Even if their exit from the spotlight was deliberate, they now face the unenviable challenge of trying to climb back in. Without the safety net of the Disney brand, getting back to where they were could take years to achieve, which may not be a gamble Hollywood is willing to take.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LokyLfxSCCs

They decided to take a break

Straying from the paths of their contemporary Disney Channel stars, the Sprouse twins made a conscious decision to take a break from the acting industry completely in 2011. Cole told E! News that "a break is fundamental" for child stars.

It may be fundamental, but Hollywood certainly was not a fan of the hiatus. The Sprouses have mentioned that industry professionals and fans alike frowned upon their decision. Cole told Teen Vogue, "because it wasn't acting or entertainment, which is very often considered a pinnacle profession where you can't do something better than acting, singing, or anything like that, it was seen as something negative. Which was interesting…it was tinted with a narrative of failure." Even so, both boys made it clear they are better off for the space and time.

They march to the beat of their own drum

Cole and Dylan may be identical twins, but they are anything but the same and certainly don't conform to the Hollywood mold. Take a look at their Facebook pages. The bros booted their social media impersonators in April 2016 and got their verified accounts up and running. Their social media platforms are littered with hilarity and genuine glimpses into their different personalities. The great Sprouse Twitter war of April 2016 further emphasized the siblings' abundant sense of humor and refusal to conform to Tinsel Town norms. Each bro marches to the beat of his own drum, but that may not be favored in the show biz economy of publicists, stylists, agents, and handlers.

They went to college

After the Sprouse twins left Disney and announced their break from acting, many fans were surprised to learn they had enrolled in college. Many a child star takes advantage of the fact that they already have high-paying gigs and can easily forego higher education or create a personalized degree that suits their needs. Cole and Dylan actually planned for an everyman's future, which is kind of insane. Not only did they attend school, but they also graduated with honors and earned degrees in fields that aren't acting!

Dylan talked about his decision in a 2015 interview with Teen Vogue. "The one thing I knew for sure about myself is I didn't want to study acting," he said. "It was something we had done and something that we don't really need to train all that much more for." According to MTV News, the twins graduated from New York University as part of the class of 2015. Cole received a degree in archaeology, while Dylan earned his in video game design. Oh, and lest you think they've matured too much and lost their signature sense of humor, the guys pulled off a classic twin prank at graduation, switching places to receive their diplomas. "In fact, if you look up my graduating photo you'll see," Dylan told Teen Vogue. "We just decided, you know, there's no reason not to. No one's going to notice."

They're a packaged deal

Here's the problem with being a twin in Hollywood: whenever you think about one twin, you're inevitably going to think of the other twin, too. Just look at the Olsen twins, who have been joined at the hip ever since they starred on Full House (1987—1995). Such is true for the Sprouse twins as well. Even their Wikipedia links them together. An entire generation of youngsters and their parents grew up watching Dylan and Cole act together on TV, to the point where their names have become synonymous with one another.

Dylan and Cole are now faced with a unique dilemma. If they want any chance of standing on their own two feet, they'll not only have to break free from their childhood personas, but also from one another. To do so may require drastic moves, such as taking unexpected roles or changing their looks. Otherwise, they'll continue to risk being marketed as a packaged deal rather than as individual talents.

They need to do something different

According to one of Dylan's Instagram posts (via E! News) he is totally sick of being asked, "What are you doing now?" When he gives truthful answers, the people behind the questions are often unimpressed, leaving Dylan unsure about what to say. "I'm enjoying myself by relaxing, traveling, consuming media, and continuing to learn" he said, "but the truth is is that unless I'm doing something bigger and better than what I've previously done, people deem it regressive."

He feels that if he and his brother are to take on new acting roles, they need to be selective about the projects they choose and make sure they're meaningful. It "needs to be good or the character needs to be something different from what I've done before," Dylan said, "so for now I'm just auditioning until that kind of thing comes along."

The flipside to those noble ambitions? Hollywood isn't exactly kicking down their doors, so being too picky could cast the Sprouse twins into show biz oblivion.

Transitioning from teen to adult roles can be tough

Child stars often have a difficult time finding more serious roles as they get older. Some find success; many others do not. The Sprouse twins have yet to be tested in this department because they bailed on Hollywood just as they were entering adulthood. This means their return to the spotlight could go one of two ways. Either they'll be stuck with their Suite Life image forever, or their time away from the spotlight will allow them to return as two completely new actors. The latter worked out nicely for child star Jodie Foster, who went on to win two Academy Awards after putting her career on hold to attend Yale University. "Oscar winners" Dylan and Cole Sprouse may sound far-fetched right now, but hey, stranger things have happened.

They haven't proven themselves on the big screen

Dylan and Cole spent almost their entire careers on the small screen. That worked out well for years, but the movie industry is a different beast. The twins will be entering auditions with resumes whose biggest silver screen credit is a cute kid role in Adam Sandler's Big Daddy (1999). That's not exactly an easy sell. If there's any cinematic hope for Dylan and Cole, they're probably going to have to start out small.

They're not likely to lean on their crutch

Given Hollywood's current and seemingly never-ending obsession with nostalgia, one might think, wait, why don't the Sprouse twins just pick a mediocre multi-cam comedy project and sell it for millions of dollars to Netflix?

That's not a terrible idea. Except for the fact that it will probably never happen. "Something Dylan and I really don't care much for is leaning into the identical twin thing," Cole revealed to People magazine in August 2014. "It doesn't make sense. It's just cheesy and hokey."

Of course, that could all change—if a certain iconic director showed an interest in the twins, anyway. "If David Lynch came up to Dylan and I and was like: 'I have this creepy project that involves twins,' I'd be hard-pressed to think Dylan and I would say no," Cole said. "I mean, it just depends on the right project, of course."

We bet they're kicking themselves for missing out on the recent Twin Peaks revival for Showtime.

Dylan is opening up a brewery

And now, for another fact that will make you feel super-old: Dylan is now not only old enough to drink, he's old, wise and responsible enough to open his own brewery.

Speaking to the New York Daily News in January 2017, Cole opened up about the project, the Brooklyn-based All-Wise Meadery, admitting he became interested in the alcohol industry after working at the Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. "It was actually a realization that I really liked doing this a lot. It's my passion."

The Meadery will reportedly be located in the swanky Williamsburg hotel, The William Vale, although it's unclear when it will actually be up and running. The Daily News reported that it would open in May. Its website, meanwhile, listed the opening date as summer 2017, while its Instagram account claims it'll be ready for the public in the fall.

Whenever it opens, expect a lot of nostalgic Millennial hipsters to be lining up at the hotel.

How they can turn it around

In their June 2015 Teen Vogue interview, the twins confirmed they would like to return to acting now that they've earned their degrees. They recognize the challenges, but insist they never truly left the acting biz. "We always had an anticipation to go back," said Cole, "but we desperately wanted an alternative perspective on it."

So far, they've lived up to their word. The fall of 2016 marked Cole's return to television as Jughead Jones in CW's teen series Riverdale, which was renewed for a second season in May 2017. That's clearly a positive step in the right direction because it puts Cole back in front of the cameras on a project that doesn't involve his twin. Meanwhile, in 2015, Dylan landed a role in the thriller flick Dismissed, and is currently working on a project called Carte Blanche. Even better, he told the New York Daily News in 2017 that he has an agent and has teamed up with MTV for an undisclosed project.

"I'm interested in roles that are human, that have some sort of empathic quality," he said. "A role I would not do: cool jock. That's not something I'd be interested in doing. Scripts that make characters a two-sentence description, I'm not interested in."

The Sprouse twins are clearly redefining what it means to be celebrities, and they're doing it in a really decent and positive manner. Time will tell if the entertainment industry embraces these hard-working brothers. In the meantime, keep reading for a few more interesting facts about the Sprouse twins you probably didn't know. 

They chose to leave Disney

The way Cole and Dylan cut ties with the Disney Channel wasn't exactly all song and dance like one might expect. In an online interview for Conversations with Natalia, Dylan said the brothers felt that after six years, it was time to end The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, but they agreed to shoot one last season to wrap up the story of their characters if they could help write and produce the season. This would give the twins some experience and credit they could use toward their careers behind the camera and simultaneously give Disney the opportunity to create a spin-off and continue making money off the show. According to Dylan, the twins' idea was shot down and they were practically laughed out of the office. "That was kind of a big part of the decision [to leave Disney] because they didn't trust us enough after all this time," he said.

The network reportedly approached the twins a few weeks later with a different concept, which was a lot like Dylan and Cole's idea except it would take place in Miami and Selena Gomez would somehow be involved. Oh, and they wouldn't get producer credit. On the upside, this finally gave the twins the chance to laugh those Disney big shots out of the office.

They actually cared about the crew and other cast members on the show

In their interview for Conversations with Natalia, Dylan mentioned that part of their concept for a final season of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody was to introduce a new character. This character would be a young boy who lived in the hotel with his father, giving Zack and Cody the chance to take him under their wing. The show would follow their shenanigans for one season before Zack and Cody went off to college and to join the workforce, and the show would then continue to follow the new character.

Dylan said setting the show up for a spin-off was important to the twins because it would ensure the rest of the cast and crew members still had a job. They didn't want their decision to leave the show to put their friends out of work, which is a sentiment that is uncommonly considerate and rare in any industry, let alone in television. Unfortunately, the Disney Channel wouldn't let the twins receive producer credits, so the aforementioned scenario never saw the small screen. C'mon, Disney, like anyone reads the show credits anyway.

Dylan called out Joe Jonas

After all that drama with Disney, the Sprouse twins shockingly don't seem to harbor any ill will toward the network, even though many of their peers do. In 2013, Joe Jonas might have gone a bit too far when talking about his experience working with Disney. In an interview with New York magazine, he talked about the pressure to always seem perfect and to "sugarcoat" everything. "Eventually, I hit a limit and thought, screw all this, I'm just going to show people who I am." While the Jonas brothers are certainly not the first Disney stars to attempt to break free from their squeaky clean images, the Sprouse twins have remained surprisingly civil.

Dylan actually spoke out against Jonas' remarks via Tumblr, calling Jonas' comments about being robbed of his creativity "bulls***." Dylan wrote, "Nowadays artists just assume they have to do what they are told by their proprietors because there is a 'rigid structure to achievement'. It is nothing more than a scheme to rob you of your individuality and capitalize the gain they acquire from such treachery… Individuality is modernity's most interesting trait regarding artwork and so many talented individuals realize this. You do not have to become something else to be successful." That's what you call dropping the mic on the high road.