Cole Sprouse has been acting since he was eight months old. Due to child labor laws in California, he spent most of his early career switching off roles with his twin brother, Dylan. At age seven, Cole began his career separate from his brother. Now 26, he is starring in his first lead role in a major motion picture - Will in Five Feet Apart, which premiered Friday, March 15. The road this far has been long and filled with so many roles for Sprouse.
Some great and iconic, others better to forget. While we celebrate Sprouse’s big film debut, let us look back at the performances that got him here.
10 Eddie Tudor - The Prince and the Pauper: The Movie
In 2008's The Prince and the Pauper, Cole plays Eddie Tudor, an actor who switches places with normal kid Tom Canty (Dylan). As in all the iterations of this story, the two boys decide to swap identities and lives when they run into each other and realize they look alike. In the end, the boys realize the grass was always greener on the other side. Cole tries his best with this role, but even the best actor can only do so much with bad, cheesy writing. It does make us wonder though if Cole and Dylan ever did this in real life.
9 Clayton - Adventures in Appletown
When Disney and Nickelodeon collide. In the 2008 mystery, Adventures in Appletown, Cole and Dylan play cousins, Clayton and Will, who witness a murder. When authorities wrongfully accuse the father of their friend, Betsy (Victoria Justice), they go on a journey to find the real killer. The film truly released five years after production wrapped, so it is mostly unknown. Probably for the best since it is not Cole's greatest performance.
Again, teenage Cole really tried to make the most of this role, but overall it's... okay.
8 Cole - Just for Kicks
At age 11, Cole and Dylan shared the leads in Just for Kicks, a film about twins who hire a stranger (Bill Dawes) to coach their losing soccer team. The poor, unfortunate Sprouse boys rarely teamed up with the best writers. They had to work overtime to make this script worth watching. Based on these roles though, one could tell these boys were going far. They were both very charismatic and adorable. They clearly had growing star power that would only get bigger with time.
7 Patrick Kelly - Grace Under Fire
Before Cole could even talk, he was acting. From 1993 to 1998, Cole and Dylan switched off playing Patrick Kelly, the infant son to the titular Grace (Brett Butler) on Grace Under Fire. The Sprouse twins went through all their early milestones while working on this show. They learned to walk, talk, and everything else that toddlers do. The boys even went from cute to adorable. Seriously, who can resist baby Cole and Dylan?!
6 Bobby - That ‘70s Show
Who knew Cole Sprouse was on That ‘70s Show?! In the 2001 episode, “Eric’s Depression,” Cole and Dylan play twins Bobby and Billy who end up in the "lost children" area at the local amusement park, Funland, with Kelso (Ashton Kutcher). At FU, dressed in matching ‘70s clothes and big wigs, Bobby and Billy annoy Kelso by mimicking him and outsmart him, making him call himself stupid. Ah, the beginning of antics for the Sprouse twins. The boys’ mom ends up driving Kelso home because his friends left him behind. In the car, one of the boys hocks a loogie on the ice cream cone “Einstein” is eating, making Kelso angry. Before he picks a fight with the boys, their mom kicks him out of the car.
5 Julian "Frankenstein" McGrath - Big Daddy
When one thinks young Cole Sprouse, they probably think this role and number two on our list. When Cole and Dylan were six they acted alongside comedian Adam Sandler in the blockbuster film, Big Daddy. In their first mainstream role, the Sprouse twins switched off playing Julian "Frankenstein" McGrath. After Julian's mother dies of cancer, he winds up at Sonny Koufax’s (Sandler) door. Sonny's roommate, Kevin (Jon Stewart), is Julian's birth father and currently in China. Not wanting to leave Julian alone, Sonny lets him in, cares for him, and takes him under his wing. When Social Services finds out what has been going on, they heartbreakingly take Julian away from Sonny. With Sonny on trial for kidnapping Julian and impersonating Kevin, Julian (Sprouse) delivers a powerful, moving speech. He tells the court he wants to stay with Sonny. This Adam Sandler fan favorite film is a memorable performance from Cole, so much so Sandler fans wonder, "what ever happened to that little boy?"
4 Jughead Jones – Riverdale
After leaving acting for half a decade to study archeology at New York University, Cole returned to TV with a more grown up character and a darker hue of hair. In 2016, Cole took on the role of Jughead Jones, Archie Andrew's (K.J. Apa) best friend, in the TV series Riverdale. Based on the character from the Archie comics, Jughead is a dark, brooding, bad-ish boy with journalistic integrity and a need to know everything. Certainly, a more grown up role compared to Cole's last. Three seasons in and Cole is still rocking it out as heir to the Southside Serpents and boyfriend of Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart). Three more years in this role might just move it up to number one on this list.
3 Ben Geller - Friends
In 2000, at age seven, Cole stepped on the scene without his brother for the first time, when he played Ross' son, Ben Geller, on Friends. Even though Cole was only in a handful of episodes, his time on the sitcom was still memorable. Cole made this role his own. Every Friends fan remembers when Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) taught Ben pranks that he then used against his dad; when Ben walked in on Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) cursing at Ms. Pac-Man; and when all Ben wanted for Christmas was to see Santa, though unfortunately all Ross (David Schwimmer) could find was an (holiday) armadillo costume. Ross was never the most attentive father so it makes sense he forgot about Ben. However, fans loved Ben so much they still wonder, “what ever happened to him?” Even though Ross might not, fans do care to know what Ben is up to and would like to see Cole return as the character if the series were ever re-booted or the kids got their own show.
2 Cody Martin – The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck, and The Suite Life Movie
Surely all the Riverdale fans are mad at this one, but listen. Try as he might, Cole Sprouse will always be Cody Martin. Cole played Cody Martin for six years across two television shows and a movie. Fans quote Cody’s lines to this day. "Mr. Moseby (Phill Lewis): How do you lose a woman?!" "Cody: You forget to cherish her." It is hard to forget when Cody dyed his hair red, was scared of ghosts, and danced in the Tipton commercial. Cody's catchphrase with his brother, Zack (Dylan), still rings in ears. "Ayayayay." Cody Martin is an iconic character and that is all thanks to Cole's performance.
1 Bonus: Will - Five Feet Apart
Based on trailers, this will probably land at number four on this list. In the film, Cole plays Will, a hospitalized patient with cystic fibrosis who falls in love with another cystic fibrosis patient, Stella (Haley Lu Richardson). Only problem: Cystic fibrosis patients cannot get within six feet of each other without potentially catching each other's bacteria and dying. This role is already a memorable one for Cole and will probably be career defining. Just his lines in the trailers are quotable. "Stella: You think that's cute." "Will: Do you think it's cute?" We for one cannot wait to see this movie and have been excited for it since the first trailer.
Will you be seeing Five Feet Apart? Let us know in the comments below.