"When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we're not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma," the former child actor ruminates.
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Cole Sprouse wants to reframe the narrative surrounding child stars — or, more specifically, female child stars.

A former child actor who starred opposite his twin brother, Dylan, on Disney Channel's 2005 sitcom The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Sprouse reflected on the notion of making it out of child stardom "unscathed" in an interview with The New York Times published Monday, sharing that he recognizes his experiences differed from the experiences of his female counterparts.

"My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, 'Oh, you made it out! Oh, you're unscathed!' No," Sprouse said. "The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] 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. And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience."

Cole Sprouse
Former child star Cole Sprouse wants to reframe the narrative surrounding child stars — or, more specifically, female child stars
| Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images

He continued, "When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we're not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma. 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."

Sprouse also noted that the lingering effects aren't much different for young adults in Hollywood, adding, "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."

Sprouse and his brother began their professional acting careers as young children in the 1990s, sharing TV roles in 1993's Grace Under Fire and 1994's Friends. They made their big screen debut in Adam Sandler's 1999 comedy Big Daddy. The two catapulted to tween stardom in the mid-2000s with Disney's The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, which followed the hijinks of twin brothers living in a five-star hotel.

THE SUITE LIFE OF ZACK AND CODY
Cole and Dylan Sprouse on 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody'
| Credit: Everett Collection

In the age of reboots, Sprouse told the Times he had no desire to return to the Suite world.

"I don't think I'll ever return to that. Not that I have a problem with other people doing the reboots thing," he said. "I'm just a big believer that if something is beautiful in the past, you should let it stay beautiful. To bring it into the future feels a bit like reheating a really good, fresh meal in the microwave. It would be hard to be in my 30s and go [in a deep growl], 'Zack and Cody are back, man!'"

Sprouse is currently filming the seventh season of CW's teen drama Riverdale — and yes, he has seen the memes about his presumed contempt surrounding yet another season. "It's easy to forget that people love the show," Sprouse said. "It would be pretty pompous of me to say that another season of financial stability is not something that would be appealing. Though I'm not going to lie. The memes do make me laugh."

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