Dylan Sprouse is all grown up and he is making a comeback. The former star of Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody took an extended break from acting to attend college. While his twin brother, Cole, starred in the wildly successful TV series Riverdale, Dylan quietly pursued his business brewing mead (what is mead? Read on). The meadery (where one brews mead) gives Dylan the freedom to choose roles that “push my comfort zone.”
I caught up with Dylan on an unseasonably steamy September day during a photo shoot in Brooklyn, a few blocks from his about-to-be-opened bar, All-Wise Meadery. We discussed his business, his love and fascination with brewing, and his acting career.
Leif: Trolling the internet I came across an Instagram live video of you brewing mead. Tell us about mead.
Dylan: Mead is a honey wine. It is generally a 12 percent alcohol and mostly its tasting notes is honey, maybe a little bread flavor, yeastiness to it. It’s often made very sweet. I’ve been brewing it for about eight years.
Tell me about your love and fascination with mead and where it began.
[It] started with just brewing in general. My buddy and business partner, Doug Brochu, gifted me a fermentation vat … and we started brewing together. He was making beer. I immediately went to mead and we’ve been doing it ever since.
And you’ve opened up All-Wise Meadery here in Williamsburg Brooklyn?
It’s not opened yet, it’s still being built out. It will be open soon and it is here Brooklyn.
How did you come up with the name All Wise?
That’s actually based on a saga. It’s the name of one deity inside [the saga]. To some degree, it’s supposed to be a communication with that [deity]. Our mindset is taking this very antiquated drink and bringing it into modernity. So that’s affected all of our design aspects.
Are the rumors true that you are working on a reality TV series called Mead in America?
The rumors are true. We are still shopping it around. Anyone in the business knows it could be going soon, it could be not going at all. We have shopped the idea around and there are several people who are very interested in it. Brewing shows seem to have caught on. And I think it would be a very cool staging ground.
You took some time off from acting to attend NYU. How was that experience?
Amazing. I knew I needed to get away from the industry for a little bit and pursue higher education and I really couldn’t be happier with that decision. It really broadened my scope and horizon a lot of different creative ways. I left acting to do that and stayed out of it up until very recently.
Your latest film role is in a film called Carte Blanche (2018), in which you play an actor who becomes an overnight sensation.
That’s right. Without saying too much, it’s pretty much how that character deals with [fame]. It’s an interesting story and definitely one that I’ve seen personally, firsthand, with friends and other people as well. So, it was something that I think really needed to be told. And the director, Eva Dolezalova, is really talented.
[One note: Dylan stared in the new horror film Dismissed out in November. Carte Blanche, due out in 2018, was the role he filmed closest to our interview.]
Is that what drew you to the role is your personal experience?
What drew me to the role immediately was it was well written. That’s rarer than I wish I could say it was. And the character was interesting and the team that I was working with was a really good cast and crew. So on all fronts, it was a big yes.
Does Carte Blanche usher in a new phase in your acting career?
Yes I think that it definitely does. I think it’s not just an acting career though, it’s a creative career in general. I think it’s all inexorably linked: The brewery, acting, and even photography, modeling, all of the above. I have very much changed my mindset about the way I am approaching things nowadays and it’s directly tied to the freedom I get from having a more stable income from the brewery.
Talk to me about the kind of roles that you’re interested in playing.
I’ve always wanted to do [roles that] are a little more out there or that kind of push my comfort zone. For me there’s a couple of criteria that are always really important. First and foremost, can someone empathize with this [character]? [Is] the role [one] I haven’t done before? And also I think [it] comes down to will I really like the people I’m working with? Does it seem like it’s going to be awesome time? Will be a fun shoot? Will I look back on the memories fondly?
Who are some of the people that you would really love to work with?
I’d really love to work with Guillermo Del Toro once in my life. David Lynch would be a big one for me. And I’d like to work again with some actors I know and some directors I know.