Cole Sprouse is not afraid to look inward. On the latest episode of Call Her Daddy, America’s self-proclaimed podcasting Founding Father Alex Cooper sat down with the Riverdale actor to discuss a variety of topics, including his self-proclaimed mommy issues, his time on Disney Channel, and, of course, his highly publicized love life.
Sprouse, alongside his twin brother Dylan, made a name for himself as a child actor, starring as Ross Gellar’s son in Friends and in Adam Sandler’s 1999 film Big Daddy, before landing their breakout role in the Disney Channel original series Suite Life of Zack and Cody. After taking a break from acting to attend college, Sprouse returned to the spotlight in the successful-in-spite-of-itself CW drama Riverdale, which completely revamped his acting career. During his appearance on the podcast, Sprouse reflected on his upbringing and how his early experiences and relationships impacted his views on fame and love. (He also lit a cigarette about 4 minutes into the podcast, which is already getting the meme treatment on Twitter and will most likely be an extremely difficult smell to get out of Cooper’s signature Boucle loveseats)
The Sprouse twins were born in Arezzo, Italy, but their parents divorced before they were two years old, and afterward, the boys moved back to the states. While Sprouse’s mother was the first to get the twins into acting, her own mental health struggles and inability to manage their finances eventually led their father to take sole custody of the boys. While Sprouse called his dad his best friend and described their lasting bond, the actor acknowledged that his mother’s personal demons led to the demise of their relationship, which remains incredibly strained today.
“In truth, she lost her mind,” Sprouse said. “I think it was the consequence of some weird alchemy of addiction and mental instability. It’s probably the greatest wound in my life and also the greatest driving force for my continuing in this industry.”
Sprouse also told Cooper that his early bouts of fame with Disney Channel were a “golden ticket” for their family financially but seriously impacted his ability to trust and be emotionally vulnerable in relationships. He described an encounter at 14 when he lost his virginity to a stranger— which he said started him on a path of serial monogamy.
“As I’ve gotten older, what I’ve really been trying to unpack is the distinction between my public and private life,” Sprouse explained. “My public life has been a mess of showing my awkward teenage years and all this sort of stuff to the world, and I think it’s a total natural consequence of my upbringing to feel a little nervous about vulnerability and connection when it came to romantic partnerships.”
One of Sprouse’s most public relationships was with his Riverdale costar and on-screen love interest, Lili Reinhart, who starred as Betty Cooper. The two first confirmed their romance in 2017 but announced their break up in January 2020. While Sprouse originally called his split with Reinhart a “mutual” decision, pressure from Cooper — in the form of her calling bullshit— led him to admit that the two did some “damage” to one another emotionally and that he was the one to ultimately leave the relationship. He also opened up about how having to continue working together impacted their split.
“I think the work thing got difficult because it was hard to suspend all the way we felt about each other. And it didn’t afford us the distance to really overcome that. I know we both did quite a bit of damage to each other…we’re good friends now, which is awesome,” Sprouse said. “But to be honest, when you’re in a relationship for that long and someone leaves, it’s not like someone’s like ‘What?!’ It’s not a surprise.”
But throughout the episode, Sprouse maintained that even with all of the twists and turns, he wouldn’t change anything about his life.
“I have a very complicated relationship to the public, which is how much I let them in, and how much I don’t let them in,” he said. “A lot of things probably should have been done differently in the past, but that’s who I am, and it’s made me who I am now. So, I don’t really regret it too much.”