Former Disney star Cole Sprouse, who catapulted into stardom with his role as Jughead Jones on the CW’s Riverdale, spoke candidly about the horrible vices that Hollywood encourages in people.
Sprouse, who along with his twin brother became a child star in movies like Big Daddy and shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, opened up about how his mother essentially used him to fulfill her narcissistic needs in an interview on The Diary of a CEO podcast.
“It started for me financially,” he said. “Single mom, two twin boys, put food on the table. She is still able to be a mother while we pursue a sort of improvement of our lifestyle, and in very many ways she was living vicariously through the success of her children.”
Sprouse recalled how his parents divorced when he and his brother, Dylan, were so young that he had only a tiny memory of the two of them together before his mother won primary custody of them both. He started acting at just eight months old when his mother put him in diaper commercials.
“I would hardly call it pushing because I was eight months old. I don’t even think I knew, you know, I was onscreen, I don’t remember much of … the diaper commercials and things like that, so the choice never really existed. I was there. That’s it,” he said.
“My mother was, still is, the kind of tortured artist type, she struggled with, in very many ways, her place in the world,” Sprouse continued. “I think she found a tremendous amount of self-identity through motherhood and tried to turn it into a profitable business at the same time … so that’s what she did.”
Though Sprouse’s mother seemed to gain a level of satisfaction in the “financial sense” from her sons’ acting, he said that the “entertainment industry just sort of broke her.”
“This industry in very many ways encourages the worst qualities of you as a person — narcissism, selfishness, greed, a lot of these things that we’ve come to know as practically cardinal sins, it’s one of those things that encouraged a kind of selfishness that was directly opposed to the very fundamental idea of motherhood,” Sprouse said.
“The court had to step in and rend my brother and I towards our father, who is an incredible guy, but that selfishness is something that the legal system also observed and said that she was unfit,” he later added.
Sprouse said that his mother had a mental illness fueled primarily by narcissism.
“A wicked narcissism, the inability to perceive anything outside your own perspective would probably be the biggest sickness I see. And that just doesn’t work with being a mother, it doesn’t work with being in a family in general,” he said.
Social services eventually stepped in and Sprouse went to his father. He did not go into further detail for fear of being regarded as a victim.
“I don’t ever want to be perceived as a victim of it. I am not, and never will be, a victim of any circumstance that I am in,” he said. “I don’t like to wear victimhood on my shoulder. I don’t like to act like I am my wounds, to repeatedly be reminded of my wounds. What happened in my youth happened and carved and forged me into the person I am today.”