Growing up in the public eye! Dylan and Cole Sprouse are definitely not Disney Channel kids anymore.

The twins got their start in Hollywood as Patrick Kelly on the TV show Grace Under Fire, then went on to star as Julian McGrath in the 1999 movie Big Daddy. While they were still young, Cole went on to play Ben Geller in the sitcom Friends from 2000 until 2002. Then, together, they got their big break on Disney Channel. As fans know, the boys played Zack and Cody Martin, respectively, on both The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its spinoff series The Suite Life on Deck.

“Having an identical twin next to me going through the same exact experiences in a very similar way with a very similar point of view is therapeutic,” Cole told Variety in August 2019. “When you’re a child actor you’re a minor, and so, a lot of the larger business decisions that are controlling your career are done outside of your own agency. One of the dangers of, at least, my position, which was a sitcom inside of a sound stage for nine years with Disney Channel, you’re raised in such an insular environment that you forget what real human experience or boots on the ground actually looks like.”

Despite having grown up in the public eye, both boys got their taste of the real world after The Suite Life on Deck came to an end in 2011. Following their Disney days, both boys took a break from the spotlight and went on to attend New York University.


“Dylan and I made the conscious decision to distance ourselves from the industry quite a bit. And we went to an educational institution; a very prestigious institution. We had considered that to be a successful move,” Cole explained while chatting with Teen Vogue in 2015. “Right after the show had ended, we were being hounded. So we really wanted to step out and fade away from the industry and, you know, we were pleasantly surprised at how often people reached out wondering what we were doing and where we were.”

During the same interview, Dylan explained that after graduating, the brothers had a realization that “there really is no truly escaping the industry.”

“By not doing anything, we were doing something,” the Banana Split star explained. “You know, it was something interesting to some people at least. So there was this realization recently that was like, ‘You know what? I think it’s time to just come to terms with that and go back into acting.'”

Click through our gallery to look back at Dylan and Cole’s total transformation over the years. 

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.