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It’s been five years since Cole Sprouse has taken an acting gig. After his Disney Channel series The Suite Life on Deck ended in 2011, Sprouse took a break from showbiz to go to college, but now he’s back and preparing for his role as Jughead Jones in The CW’s Archie Comics adaptation Riverdale.

At the EW and PEOPLE Upfronts Party on Monday night, Sprouse talked about how helpful that break from acting was for him, and what being an actor for all of his childhood was like.

“There was a feeling of machination; I felt like an automaton,” Sprouse said of his time with the long-running Suite Life franchise on Disney Channel. “I needed to take a break and step outside myself… I needed a dose of reality and I needed to see myself in a more objective point of view. And now I think I can enjoy [acting], which is a really fundamental part about being an actor.”

These past five years have been Sprouse’s only time away from showbiz since birth — he and his twin brother Dylan shared the role of newborn Patrick Kelly on Grace Under Fire, starting from before they had turned 1; he then quickly moved on to play Ross Geller’s son Ben on Friends, and from there landed The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

“I’m not saying that we didn’t enjoy that time, but it was work,” Sprouse said.”It’s a career and a business, and it got me to college, which is one of the most fantastic gifts I could’ve been given. But I’m glad to be [acting] on my own accord now.”

This Riverdale series also marks the first time Cole will be acting in a series without Dylan. When asked if his twin brother would make an appearance on Riverdale, Sprouse responded, “I’m sure he’d entertain that idea.”

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
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