In my head, there’s a really funny irony to ‘Riverdale’ star Cole Sprouse standing in the middle of a river, and one of the things I adore about Cole the most is his sense of humour - so out in the river he goes. This is one of my favourite memories from my trip to Canada this summer with photographer Danielle Levitt and stylist Julie Ragolia. We eat our sandwiches in the car, as we descend into nature and watch the trees stand closer and closer to each other - till they hug like old lovers refusing to let go. We start to breathe a little slower.
Following on from our image teaser last week, we wanted to share a couple of extracts from his AW17 cover story interview. My curiosity is satisfied as Cole talks about what it’s like growing up in the public eye and how that impacts who you become. We talk about silence versus noise, a thing that’s been on my mind recently - as the world feels more and more noisy for us all and shutting it off actually takes a conscious effort. We talk about masculinity and how this is changing with this new generation of young men, and why vulnerability is the key ingredient to personal growth.
We spend a few moments pondering over his return to acting and his artistic journey in general. Not only has he shown tremendous growth as an actor with his impactful interpretation of Jughead in ‘Riverdale’, but the fact that he now also takes better pictures than me, raises my respect enormously for the artist he is becoming. It’s beautiful to watch someone’s journey and self reflection.
To read the full interview (three pages of it - you're welcome) and take in the full 24-page cover story, youn can get our brand new Autumn Winter 2017 issue, ‘Tales of a new Generation’, which is now available to buy online and in stores.
We talked about your joy of escaping into nature. Is this still important for you?
Yes, I call it escapism, and I think it affects every part of my life. My love of thrusting myself into a more reduced landscape or social experience, was caused by me being paranoid about feeling watched as a child. I’m now starting to feel that again with a renewed kind of fervour, and for those reasons, something like meditation, a passion or something you can lose yourself to for a few moments, is really fundamental to ground yourself and stay present within the industry.
This brings me to the next question, which is about noise. I think there is so much of it in today’s society. Talk to me about noise, Cole.
When I think of noise, I think of white noise - something that sometimes dissolves your train of thought, which can be a dangerous thing. When we’re left alone to our devices and forced to think in silence, and we’re subjected to our own voice in blaring volumes - we learn the most about ourselves. I find myself turning to social media and noise when I don’t want to think. Whilst the meditation that can come from that noise can be good, we have to balance it with experiences in which we’re subjected to our own voice or thoughts. Again, it goes back to escapism for me. When I go into the woods or I sit in the prairie - it becomes a space that allows me to think. This really has been my therapy for years. Every time you dissolve yourself into a more serene landscape, you reflect in some small or great way, which is why I think it’s so important.
You said in another interview that Jughead struggles with vulnerability.
Totally. I think Jughead’s struggle with vulnerability is something I struggle with, but that’s because we are both young men. Jughead turns away from emotional connection when he gets too close to people, as an attempt to safeguard himself from becoming hurt. Just a product of men being told they can’t be weak. That’s how I had grounded it; in the inability to be vulnerable in that kind of physiology.
Where is Cole with vulnerability, are you comfortable being vulnerable?
I am now. Or at least, I’m more comfortable. I think vulnerability is the petri dish for growth. Full vulnerability is something people work at, which I will try to work at my whole life. Every time you enter into a vulnerable state, you enter into a right of passage, in my opinion. So much growth comes from the ability to make yourself vulnerable, because you immediately clarify what makes you nervous, and what makes you feel strong in those moments. I’m a firm believer that history of human survival is essentially a history of triumph over their vulnerabilities. I truly think that bravely stepping into vulnerability is the greatest and most effective way to grow as a human being. Now, vulnerability for men is one of those things that from a very young age is seen as forbidden or weak. Since men are quite young, we are taught that weakness and vulnerability is something we should avoid, and the truth is that a person only becomes strong through recognising their weaknesses and addressing vulnerability - especially emotional vulnerability - and coming to terms with that.
I think those are very important words for young men.
The truth is, I was a very socially anxious kid. I was homeschooled, so raised inside a soundstage - not knowing how to interact with the world around me. I used comedy a lot to cover up my vulnerability, as an attempt to diffuse an otherwise hostile or threatening situation to me. And then as I embraced vulnerability when I got older, my own personal insecurity, femininity and all the other concepts that I have within me - I had the confidence to walk around and truly feel like I had mastered a space that was otherwise foreign to me. Especially during puberty, when we’re getting all these complicated ideas about sexuality, maturation, social standing and professional pursuit. If we sat back and took the time to analyse why those things made us uncomfortable, we would have the confidence to take the world around us by storm.
Find the full interview in our new print issue 'Tales of a new Generation'.