Cole Sprouse Talks 'Trauma' of Child Stardom, Why He's 'Violently Defensive' of Female Child Stars

Cole Sprouse knows a thing or two, alongside his twin Dylan, about child stardom. The two blew up side-by-side as the stars of Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” with many believing they emerged from it in a much better place than many former child stars.

“My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, ‘Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!’ No,” he pushed back in a new interview with The New York Times. “Every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience.”

But while each experience is unique, Sprouse argues that it is a whole different beast when it comes to the female child stars. TooFab has reached out to Disney for comment.

“The young women on the channel we were on were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences,” he told the Times.

“So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover,” he continued.

He argued, “When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma.”

In fact, after stepping away from the spotlight following “Zack and Cody” to pursue his education, Sprouse returned to television to find himself again part of a wildly successful show in the cultural zeitgeist with his role as Jughead Jones on The CW’s “Riverdale.”

And yet, the 29-year-old argued that many of those same experiences he endured as a child were surprisingly present in much the same way even now as a young adult.

“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,” he said.

In fact, Sprouse said that the only difference between the two experiences is that “people have an easier time hiding it when they’re older.”

But does that mean he’s actually ready to say goodbye to the popular Archie Comics adaptation. Sprouse was reported by some outlets as suggesting the cast was ready for the show to end, even as the network was picking it up for a seventh season.

“It’s not completely accurate,” he said, confirming that the cast had signed the industry-standard seven-season contract. He told the outlet he “just assumed” they would carry on to at least that point. On top of that, the show remains a hit for The CW, despite fan reaction to some of its crazier plots in recent seasons.

“I think the internet assumes — because of how insane our show is — that we’re probably doing a bit worse than we actually are,” Sprouse said. “It’s easy to forget that people love the show.” At the same time, he seemed to acknowledge that it’s gotten … a little strange, adding that he thinks it’ll be more appreciated in ten years time.

At the same time, Sprouse said he’s feeling confident that the upcoming season will be the show’s last. As he steps into his next decade, he feels more confident than ever that he’s ready for whatever’s next, saying that he “finds the world of possibilities” both “incredibly appealing and intoxicating.”

Sprouse’s schedule opening up in this era of reboots and revivals might get some fans hopeful for a reunion with his brother Dylan on a revival of their hit Disney series. Well, don’t hold your breath.

“I don’t think I’ll ever return to that,” Sprouse said of their hit series before adding, “Not that I have a problem with other people doing the reboots thing. I’m just a big believer that if something is beautiful in the past, you should let it stay beautiful.”

He compared the idea of rebooting the series to “reheating a really good, fresh meal in the microwave.” It might be edible, but it’s never going to be as good as when it was fresh.

“It would be hard to be in my 30s and go, ‘Zack and Cody are back, man!'”

For now, fans can catch Sprouse on The CW’s “Riverdale,” Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.

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