With the third season of The CW’s Riverdale premiering earlier this month, Cole Sprouse invited his fans to “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit about his role as Jughead Jones. The award-winning television series explores a darker side of the Archie Comics characters, and fans of the show include teens as well as older folks who grew up reading about Archie and the gang. 

Sprouse’s acting career started when he was just eight months old. During his early childhood, he and his twin brother, Dylan, would share roles like Patrick Kelly in the sitcom Grace Under Fire, and the five-year-old Julian in the Adam Sandler film Big Daddy. But soon enough, the twins starting taking on separate characters. Cole played Ross Geller’s son, Ben in Friends, and Cole and Dylan starred as twin brothers in Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

Now in his twenties, Sprouse was asked what it was like to go from playing a “happy family friendly kinda TV show” to portraying the darker, moodier role of Jughead. Indeed, Jughead is in a gang, rides a motorcycle, and carries a switchblade. Sprouse responded:

“I’d say the biggest challenge doesn’t come from you as an actor (as most actors are prepared to be versatile), it actually comes from the audience wanting their childhood to stay etched in stone. I’ve had the privilege of being on a couple shows that have reached a rare level of success within the industry, and a longevity that many people grew up alongside. That process of growing up and wanting the childhood to always remain nostalgic, can keep a lot of actors in the same place. Public identity is a huge part of hiring potential, and it often takes a showrunner or casting director’s belief in an actor’s talent or appeal to look past that identity. I intentionally left entertainment for five years, and experienced life, grew up a bit, trained, got a haircut, went to college, and the audience grew with me. Very thankful for that.”

After six years of playing Cody, Sprouse attended New York University. He told Elle magazine, “Acting requires a great amount of empathy for real, lived human experiences. I hadn’t lived any real human experiences outside of home-school and being in a soundstage, and there was really no other option. I couldn’t continue to live in a bubble and hope to be an empathetic actor. It doesn’t work.”

Of all things, he earned a degree in Geographical Information Systems and Satellite Imaging, graduating with honors. Applying his knowledge to archeology, he traveled across the globe to participate in a couple of excavations. In the basement of a Brooklyn building, Sprouse continued his work by documenting and bagging artifacts. When he received an invitation to audition for Riverdale, he was glad to accept. However, the production initially asked Sprouse to play the part of Archie. But he passed on the red-haired character once he discovered Jughead was the narrator and the closest thing to an objective observer among the gang.

When a Reddit fan asked Sprouse if he’d ever had his scenes not make the final cut of the episodes, the actor answered yes, and he explained it’s a part of the process that all actors must accept. “We film about 60 minutes worth of content each episode, but air only around 42 min. That being said, all of us are quite used to letting go of certain scenes or lines that we may have held quite dearly. As an actor, once you finish the work on set, you often have to let go and understand the finished product is going to look quite different.”

Riverdale currently airs on the CW at 8 p.m. (ET), and Netflix will feature the entire third season after the season finale in May 2019.