Cole Sprouse talks about archeology, ‘Riverdale’

C. Mendez Legaspi - Philstar.com
Cole Sprouse talks about archeology, âRiverdaleâ
'Riverdale' star Cole Sprouse in Manila
Photo release

MANILA, Philippines — Besides his namesake account, “Riverdale” star Cole Sprouse has another Instagram handle, @camera_duels, which he describes as “dedicated to the people out there who secretly take photos of me, and how I take photos of them first. May the fastest camera win.”

“That started from pure existential rage and dread. That was an idea that I had when I starred in ‘The Suite Life,’ but social media wasn’t a thing on the Disney show till pretty late in the game. I realized that Instagram would be this perfect platform for it. It started because (fans taking pictures of me) used to annoy me and it was a way that I could gain a little power back at the scenario and poke fun at it at the same time in a lighthearted way,” Cole explained during a recent Manila press conference organized by Bench.

“So, I started curating it like I was really angry but I really wasn’t. It was kind of therapeutic for me so it took all of the strangeness of the people sort of taking pictures of you in the bathroom and it made it something palatable for me. When it became palatable, I stopped doing it for a little bit. So now that I’m getting more and more annoyed again and the existential rage is starting to come back again slowly and surely, I may start doing it.”

Now, he said he has gotten used to people taking pictures of him on a daily basis.

“But when I was younger, it used to annoy me. That’s not the right way to deal with it. That was not a healthy way for me to deal with it personally, so I used that account.”


Acting or photography?

Cole and his twin, Dylan, has been acting since they were eight months old (for a diaper commercial). They have always starred together, alternately playing the same role except when Cole starred solo in “Friends” (2000-2002) as Ross Geller’s (David Schwimmer) son, Ben. That stint in the classic sitcom and co-starring with comedy superstar Adam Sandler in “Big Daddy” (1999) honed Cole’s comic timing and trademark snark.

He dabbled in photography to get through a depression, but became excellent at it that he has photographed Kendall Jenner for the Sunday Times Style magazine, Sam Smith for L’Uomo Vogue and Sophie Turner for W magazine.

“The two artistic mediums are very different. Acting is one of those things that oftentimes you have the power to play a certain role and character but you’re still bound by many other elements — the writing, the direction. So essentially, you’re bringing to life—unless you’re bringing to life your own project—someone else’s project. So you’re essentially dancing to the beat of their drum.”

Photography, meanwhile, is “empowering, and many of you sitting here with your cameras will understand, Photography is one of those things that you have the ability to flex completely your own creative control without hindrance. For me, it’s a really therapeutic thing. When you stay behind the camera you know what you want when you’re in front of it.”

He, nevertheless, thinks the two disciplines “inform each other greatly and are not mutually exclusive.”

“I also think that we’re in an age now that we can do both successfully. More than any other generation of actors in the past, so much of your success is bound within your ability to show your image set in social media. It’s given me the opportunity to kind of illuminate the way I’m able to see and produce high-quality imagery that informs people’s understanding of me as an actor and as an artist. So I don’t necessarily think the two are divided. I also think in most cases, photography is a natural catalyst for directing.”


On archeology

 Cole and Dylan wanted to “fade” away from the limelight after their sequel show “The Suite Life on Deck” (2008-2011) finished. They both went to college, with Dylan taking up videogame design.

“My grandfather was a geologist. I suppose I got a fascination with the earth sciences. I took astronomy for a little bit. I realized that both disciplines allowed me to travel quite a bit and the lifestyle that came with those professions were quite romantic. I fell upon archaeology during one of my semesters and realized that it integrated a lot of those disciplines — earth sciences, astronomy, the study of ancient humans. It’s really an interdisciplinary profession. I fell in love with. It was quite challenging and competitive.”

How does it feel to become an archeologist?

“The professor of my very first archaeology class said whoever is most passionate will get to go in an excavation that summer. I competed and competed and I got it. We ended up going to France and I fell in love with the lifestyle and I fell in love just how humbling pulling something out of the ground so much older than yourself could be. There was something romantic, it allowed me to travel. During my younger career, I was sheltered, raised around a sound stage, acting. I realized when I got to college that I haven’t really traveled much, haven’t lived my own storytelling and I haven’t really pushed myself.”

What makes archeology different from showbiz?

“So archaeology had satisfied so many things that I was concerned with proving to myself, like I could do something outside of the arts even though archaeology involves the arts quite a bit. I wanted to prove that I was successful at it and I have done that by the end of my college career. I booked a gig after I graduated in an archaeological lab lugging artifacts like a little goblin int the basement. And then I got swept up back in the arts.”


On ‘Riverdale’

Cole recalled that he was about to go to graduate school when the opportunity to star in “Riverdale” came.

“I had no intention of going back to acting,” he professed.

“I was balancing archaeology and photography. (You had to choose between) cultural resource management and true academia if you get your master’s and that’s what I was planning on doing.”

The breakout CW hit based on the Archie comics is sometimes referred to as a cross between “Gossip Girl” and “Twin Peaks.”

“Perverted,” Cole told talk-show host Jimmy Fallon as how some fans describe the show.

In the show, Cole plays Archie’s bestfriend, Jughead. With Betty (real-life squeeze Lili Reinheart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes), they form Riverdale’s core quartet.

 On TV, Jughead, wearing a beanie, is in a relationship with Betty, while the comics Jughead, in a crown, is asexual. As a school-paper reporter and a SouthSide Serpent, he is the town’s “conscientious objector.”

His TV dad is played by ‘90s heartthrob Skeet Ulrich (of “Scream” fame). His TV mom has yet to appear in the show, and the casting speculations for the role have sent the fandom into a frenzy online. The basic requirement is that the actress must have starred in a classic teen movie.

Suggestions range from Ione Skye (‘Say Anything’), Phoebe Cates (‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’) or Fairuza Balk (‘The Craft’). But the fan consensus is Neve Campbell, Skeet’s love interest in "Scream.” 

“The end of season 2, without spoiling too much, leaves Jughead in a super precarious spot. He’s put himself on a very public platform in the latter half of this season which has put a big target on his back,” he said.

“And he’s probably, more than any other character in the town, made the most enemies. Just enemy after enemy. So he’s in a very dangerous spot in the end of this season that’ll pick up in the beginning of the next season.”


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