Why Cole Sprouse Lost 25 Pounds for New Teen Romance Movie

Cole Sprouse lost 25 pounds to play a terminally ill teen in the new movie "Five Feet Apart."
Cole Sprouse lost 25 pounds to play a terminally ill teen in the new movie "Five Feet Apart."Getty Images

Cole Sprouse wanted to embody the physical limitations of cystic fibrosis.

Portraying a terminally ill patient was not only a professional challenge for Cole Sprouse — it was also a physical challenge.

The 26-year-old actor, known for starring in the Disney Channel staple "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," wanted to accurately portray the life of a teen with cystic fibrosis (CF) for the new movie "Five Feet Apart." So he and director Justin Baldoni, of "Jane the Virgin" fame, worked closely with medical professionals and real people living with the disease to get his look right.

"I lost 25 pounds for the role," Sprouse said in an interview with People published Friday. "Everything we had to learn was covered in a mortality that was debilitating. ... I feel pretty well-versed about cystic fibrosis now.”

The "Riverdale" star added that he did a lot of research on CF in order to do his role justice. The disease is a genetic disorder that causes persistent lung infections and inhibits a person's ability to breathe over time, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It can lead to wheezing or shortness of breath, poor growth or weight gain, male infertility and respiratory failure.

“Cystic fibrosis is not really as in the public eye as it probably should be,” Sprouse told People. “It’s one of those illnesses that everyone sort of knows the name of but doesn’t really know the gravity of.”

More than 30,000 people in the U.S. live with CF. There is no cure, and the life expectancy for someone with the disease is about 40 years.

Sprouse said he is proud of "Five Feet Apart."

“We made sure to be as accurate as possible,” he told People. “And for us, the greatest feedback has been from the CF community going, ‘Yeah, we know that this is still a Hollywood production but it’s very clear that production has put a lot of attention to detail in how this thing really affects our lives.’ And that’s the badge of honor that we want.”