Alyson Stoner wasn’t happy learning their first kiss would be with Dylan Sprouse — and on camera during an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
“I felt young and uncomfortable,” Stoner, 30, said of the experience via TikTok video earlier this week. “I felt like, this is part of my job. I chose to act and audition for this project. It’s only a character. So in that way, I justified, like, ‘OK, I can have my kiss here and then I’ll have my own separate first kiss at some point.’”
Stoner appeared as the character Max in a recurring guest star role on the Disney hit, which starred Dylan alongside twin Cole Sprouse. Stoner claimed that they weren’t initially told in their audition they’d have to kiss one of the brothers during the episode “Kisses and Basketball,” but the “writers and executives might decide to make your character do anything on the next episode and it’s assumed that you’re going to agree to whatever’s scripted.”
By Stoner’s second episode of the show, they were informed they’d be kissing both Dylan and Cole, now 31, who starred as Zack and Cody, respectively. Stoner noted that they weren’t “ready” to lock lips on screen but their “first kiss and several of the times I experienced kissing all happened on camera.”
Stoner didn’t end up kissing Cole — only Dylan — but the experience was still an “uncomfortable” one, likely made more awkward by the fact Stoner dated Cole in real life.
During an appearance on “The Night Time Show” podcast in 2016, Stoner revealed they sparked a romance with the Riverdale alum as a preteen. “The first boy, I guess, that I had like a crush on and dated was Cole Sprouse,” Stoner shared, claiming that the pair later broke up when he “dumped me on my birthday.”
This isn’t the first time Stoner has been candid about dealing with unfair treatment in the industry. They publicly came out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in March 2018, penning an emotional essay about the first time that they fell in love with a woman.
“The question of whether she was a cool new friend or more kept me awake in wonderment and dread. I tried to be patient and stifle the emotions so I could think objectively. Our bond didn’t feel quite sisterly or platonic,” Stoner wrote in Teen Vogue at the time. “Flashes of her smile progressed to flashes of her wavy hair followed by the curve of her hips through her straight-leg pants. I realized I had never fantasized about a guy this way nor really ever felt comfortable dating guys. Come to think of it, I stared at women’s bodies more than anything. But wasn’t that just societal conditioning or the unattainable beauty standards that fuel comparison and objectification? I refused to entertain other possibilities.”
In June, they opened up about how it felt to come out publicly during an appearance on the “I’m Literally Screaming” podcast. “It was really nerve-racking and the reason I ended up doing it was because my girlfriend at the time, we reached a point in our relationship where it felt like it was a disservice to her for her to be hidden,” they explained. “Even though there were other pressures and considerations to be public, I felt like I wanted to do this.”
While Stoner said that some of their managers — including the Jonas Brothers’ father, Kevin Jonas. Sr. — were “loving” about their decision, several others on the actor’s team were not as supportive. Stoner claimed they even ended up getting fired from a children’s show “because they felt that I was unsafe — now that they knew I was queer — to be around kids.”
Despite the incidence of intolerance, Stoner is glad they made the decision to be open about their sexuality and identity. “There was definitely discrimination there, but the beauty far outweighs the hate comments and death threats. It was intimidating and also liberating,” they said.