Dylan Sprouse Refused To Say A “Fat Joke” On “The Suite Life” And Told The Executive Producer He “Would Not Disrespect Any Woman” And To “Write Something Funny” Instead
Dylan and Cole’s onscreen mom Kim Rhodes has revealed that the preteen twins were told early on: “You’re the only people on this set that are not expendable, so you take the bullet every time” — and it sounds like they took this advice to heart.
By the time Dylan and Cole Sprouse landed their own Disney TV show, The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody, at 12 years old in 2005, they had already been acting for, well, 12 years.
The twins were newborns when they were cast as Patrick Kelly in Grace Under Fire in 1993, and they shared this role for five years.
In 1999, they landed their first major theatrical role in the comedy Big Daddy, where they starred alongside Adam Sandler. Suffice to say, by the time Suite Life came along, Dylan and Cole were already pretty well established within the industry.
In case you didn’t know, the brothers play the titular roles of Zack and Cody in the sitcom, which was specifically created with them in mind.
And Kim Rhodes, who played their onscreen mom Carey in the show, has now revealed that Dylan and Cole were well aware of the fact that they were the stars, and they took that responsibility incredibly seriously by protecting the rest of the cast and crew.
Speaking on the Back To The Best podcast earlier this month, Kim explained that very early on their costar Phill Lewis had made it clear to the kids that they held all of the power.
“Phill was like: ‘Look, you’re the only people on this set that are not expendable, so you take the bullet every time,’ and they took that so seriously,” she shared. “It would be so easy for a 12-year-old to be like: ‘The prop didn’t work, it’s their fault!’ and they were always like: ‘No, no, I’m sorry, I’ll work on it, I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t paying attention.’”
“And so the fact they, at such a young age, understood that it was their job to make sure everybody else was able to do their job was really impressive,” Kim added.
The actor went on to detail two specific times when Dylan and Cole showed exceptional maturity on set, with the first being soon after the show had started filming.
“It was one of my earliest experiences with Dylan and Cole where I was like, oh, we’re going to be good,” Kim said, after explaining that a swear jar had been implemented for her by somebody on the crew.
“I said something and this individual held up the swear jar and shook their finger at me,” she recalled. “I’m crumbling inside, like, I just assume anybody who isn’t me has the power to tell me what I should be doing.”
But then Kim's preteen costars came to her defense over her language. Kim said: “Cole goes: ‘We’ve worked with Adam Sandler!’ and Dylan goes: ‘Yeah, we've heard them all already, I think she’s fine!’”
“And I was like, those little fuckers said I could swear,” Kim joked. “That was the first season, this was, like, the third episode. They were maybe 12 when they said this. They defended me all the way through.”
Kim then recounted another sweet anecdote, telling the podcast’s hosts: “I got pregnant when I was on the show, and of course the show dealt with it by making fat jokes. One of my favorite memories is that Dylan had a line that was a fat joke, and he kept skipping over it.”
“It was in the middle of a chunk of dialogue, so he kept skipping this laugh line and skipping it, and skipping it, and skipping it,” she went on. “Finally, we get in front of the studio audience and he skips it, and the executive producer screams: ‘Cut!’”
“He goes: ‘Dylan, say the line,’” Kim continued, before detailing Dylan’s impressive response. “He goes: ‘I would not disrespect any woman that way, let alone this woman. You write something funny and I’ll say it.’”
Audibly still proud of Dylan to this day, Kim added: “That’s my little man. They’re both my little men, they both were very protective of everyone on set.”
Suite Life ran until 2008 when it returned as a spin-off, The Suite Life On Deck, which ran until 2011 — the same year that The Suite Life Movie was released.
Once Suite Life had come to an end, Dylan and Cole enrolled in further education at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where Cole focused on humanities and archaeology while Dylan studied video game design. They graduated in 2015.
While in further education, Dylan also worked as a host in a New York City restaurant — but not because he needed the money. Addressing the situation after pictures of him working emerged online in 2013, Dylan said: “To clear up the air (which is admittedly pretty rude), I did not take this job because I 'lost all my money,' I am financially secure, and took this job as a way to primarily feed my over bountiful video game addiction.”
“I also took this as a way to try a new experience, working somewhat below the means I'm used to, as well as a way to socialize and get out of the house,” he went on. “I feel most comfortable when I'm working and doing something, to criticize someone of that is pretty odd. I will potentially return to acting someday, but in no way do I think any experience is a step down for me, but rather a new step in another direction."
Dylan returned to acting in 2017, and in July of this year, he married model Barbara Palvin after five years together.
Meanwhile, Cole launched a photography website in 2011 and has gone on to shoot for major publications over the years. He also briefly worked at a comic book store in Los Angeles and participated in excavations and lab work while studying archaeology.
In 2016, he returned to the small screen when he was cast as Jughead Jones in the CW series Riverdale, which aired until August of this year.
Just last week, the brothers were faced with an intense reminder of their time on Suite Life when they were simultaneously bombarded with messages from fans about a joke from the show that aired in 2008.
In the episode, their characters were told that they could be squeezed in for a dinner reservation at a prestigious restaurant on November 16, 2023 — prompting the stars to be inundated with references to this on social media when the day finally rolled around.