By Maggie F. Francisco
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We first knew him as Julian McGrath from the movie Big Daddy, then adored him as little Ben Geller from one of the best comedy sitcoms Friends, and raved about him as Cody Martin in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck. This time, we’re head over heels for Cole Sprouse as he plays Jughead Jones in the hit Netflix series Riverdale.
When news broke out last September that the 25-year-old actor was the latest brand ambassador—or #GlobalBenchsetter, as the brand would call it—of Filipino retail giant Bench, everyone had one question in mind: When is Cole Sprouse coming to Manila? After months of waiting, we finally got to meet him in a press conference last week held at Makati Shangri-La, Manila.
With TV personality and radio broadcaster Sam Oh hosting the event, she introduced Cole who came out wearing a white T-shirt under a classic denim jacket, and black slim-fit jeans (all by Bench, of course). Cole then proceeded to talk about the adventures he and his father Matthew Sprouse had experienced while exploring Manila. If you check Instagram, you’ll see snapshots and videos of Cole walking in the streets of Binondo, riding a jeep, and drinking beer at a bar in Poblacion. “Everywhere we walked, we were greeted with the warmth and hospitality that you hope for as someone who travels,” he shared. “You kind of get lucky walking into [that experience], mix that with the amazing food, warm weather, and a white tank top—yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
While his original plan of staying longer in the country to explore the beaches didn’t push through, he revealed how it makes him look forward to coming to the Philippines for a vacation. “There’s that mythical, spiritual island that Ben Chan and I talked about—Siquijor. That’s one place that I would really like to visit.”
Of course, we couldn’t let the opportunity to ask him about Riverdale pass, and he was happy to give us a sneak peek of what’s in store for viewers. “The end of Season 2 leaves Jughead in a super precarious spot. He’s put himself in a very public platform in the latter half of the season, which puts a pretty big target on his back. He, probably more than any other character in town, made the most enemies,” he revealed. Ooooh—that’s definitely a lot to process. (Riverdale is currently on its 19th episode of Season 2, with three more episodes before the season finale.)
When it comes to fashion, he described his personal style as “pieces that might actually be in my father’s closet.” Crediting his family’s working-class lineage as an influence to his style, he shared, “As a culture right now, we have a fascination with nostalgia—the 70s are coming back, the 90s are coming back. Mine can change according to the situation, but it generally tends to be me putting unleaded fuel into a truck.” Does he put a lot of effort into his own fashion? “I think from the moment we get up, we choose the kind of interaction we’ll have with the world based on the clothes that we choose to wear. It’s one of those things—you’re giving an impression to your environment.”
While we fawn over him as Jughead, he’s proven that he’s more than just an actor. If you follow his Instagram (@colesprouse), you know that Cole is a talented photographer—he’s already photographed Sam Smith for the cover of L’uomo Vogue, Kendall Jenner’s fashion editorial for Sunday Times, and Sophie Turner for her feature in W magazine. That and also the numerous photos he’s taken of his fellow Riverdale cast. This guy is truly an artist!
Cole also graduated from his archeology major at the New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2015—with honors! So why archeology? “My grandfather was a geologist; I suppose I have this fascination with earth sites, which they do in geology,” he revealed. “I sort of fell upon archeology during one of my semesters and realized it integrated a lot of other disciplines.” Cole also shared that it was during his college years that he became aware of how “sheltered” he was, growing up behind sound stages and lighting booths. “I realized I traveled too much but hadn’t lived my own kind of storytelling or narrative. And I really had to push myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something else.”
Having made a name for himself in both acting and photography, he admitted that he couldn’t choose one over the other. “I feel like we’re at an age where so much of your success is bound within the images that you show of yourself through social media.” He said that he’s been privileged to have made a mark in both. “Acting is oftentimes one of those things that you have a little bit of power when playing a certain role, but you’re still bound by other elements, like the writing, the direction. Essentially, you’re bringing someone else’s project to life. Photography, on the other hand, is very empowering. For me, that’s very therapeutic. It’s one of those things that you can completely flex your own creative control without any hindrance.”
So what else can we expect from this brooding young man? Well, with a movie underway (and it’s said to be a tear-jerker), Riverdale renewed for a new season, and photography projects flourishing, it is without a doubt Cole is going to have his hands full for the next year—which only means, more Cole Sprouse to fall in love with.
For more info, follow @benchtm on Instagram. For updates on Cole, follow @colesprouse on Instagram