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Interview: Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson Are Five Feet Apart

The young actors play victims of Cystic Fibrosis who fall in love despite differences.

Mar 12, 2019

By: Ly​nn Barker

You might have enjoyed cute Cole Sprouse as Jughead on the TV series “Riverdale”. You can see him now on big screens in Five Feet Apart as Will, a young man who is resigned to the ravages of Cystic Fibrosis, a wasting disease that has made him basically give up on life. Still fighting and more upbeat is Stella, another CF victim played by Haley Lu Richardson who was in The Edge of Seventeen and Split.

Five Feet Apart Trailer


Cole as Jughead in RiverdaleCole as Jughead in RiverdaleCourtesy of The CW

What if you were really crushing on someone you were forbidden to touch? When Stella and Will have feelings for each other, CF “rules” state that a sufferer can’t touch another CF patient for fear of passing on some elements of the disease that might worsen another victim. Stella and Will have to buck the system.

Both Will and Stella are quite illBoth Will and Stella are quite illCourtesy of CBS Films

Check out what the young actors had to say about their characters, relationship and working with one another.

Stella (Haley) and Will (Cole) fall in loveStella (Haley) and Will (Cole) fall in loveCourtesy of CBS Films

Q: Tell us about your characters.

  • Cole: I play a character called Will Newman. He has CF (Cystic Fibrosis) but he has a rare form of it. He suffers from a version of Cystic Fibrosis that is not so well understood. He is arriving at the hospital on an experimental drug trial which is something pretty common in cases like this. He has, in no small way, resigned himself to the nature of his life. He’s sort of thrown his care away in many forms. When he arrives at the hospital he’s looking for interaction on his terms without really caring how it effects other people. I think, when you first meet Will he’s selfishly resigned to the nature of his condition.

Will is ready to give up on lifeWill is ready to give up on lifeCourtesy of CBS Films

Q: He’s an artist, right?

  • Cole: The interesting thing about many young people who live with Cystic Fibrosis is they’re raised in environments pretty much primarily around adults and with the internet at their fingertips so these kids mature really quickly and they become quite smart and cynical and their senses of humor become quite adult. His cartooning seems like a perfect balance between his isolation within his hospital room and his upbringing which was probably quite cynical in nature.

Cole and Haley at the premiereCole and Haley at the premiere

Q: And Haley?

  • Haley: Stella is this 17-year-old girl who is doing the very best she can in every aspect of her life. There is so much pressure on her. I feel bad for Stella, not even because of her illness but because of the pressure she puts on herself to be alive for the people in her life that love her and need her.

On a rare trip outside togetherOn a rare trip outside togetherCourtesy of CBS Films

Q: Okay both of you tell us what it was like working together.

  • Cole: Haley’s an absolute goober (he laughs) but she has all the innocence and charm that we wanted Stella to embody and Claire Wineland (a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer and advocate who died at age 21) had carried through her videos and the nature of her living with CF that we really were looking for. And, on top of Haley’s natural talent, we really got lucky. We landed on an amazing actress who was able to bring the character to life and still have the chemistry needed.

Will and Stella get to know one anotherWill and Stella get to know one anotherCourtesy of CBS Films
  • Haley: The coolest thing about Cole that has helped me a lot on the film is his ability to see the truth and see the big picture of things which I think parallels his character in a way. Even though he is too much that way in the movie, he wakes Stella up a little bit. ‘Hello! There is one life to live. Who cares if you are this or that, just be.’ And I think Cole has that quality too. He’s just a very truthful, thoughtful person and he’s definitely bringing that to the role. It’s a very heavy role. These characters are at such a heightened time in their lives so emotional. So many things going on during the span of the movie and it was hard work for us but it’s been great working with him.

Relating through glassRelating through glassCourtesy of CBS Films

Q: Haley, what would you say in at the heart of the film? What is it really centered on?  

  • Haley: The whole story, simply put with CF out of the picture, is two people who are very, very opposite but share such common ground and how, without even knowing it and being opposed to it at the beginning of the story, they need what the other person’s strength is.

Haley in The Edge of SeventeenHaley in The Edge of Seventeen
  •  A friend told me once, ‘Every strength overplayed, is a weakness’. I feel like both of their strengths become weaknesses for them. If Will doesn’t get his act together he’s going to die and miss out on possibly getting better and if Stella doesn’t calm down and relax and give in to life, she’s going to not live her life. So simply put, it’s about two people that need what the other has and, throughout the movie, a little bit of Will rubs off on Stella and a little bit of Stella rubs off on Will. That’s what love is and what their connection is.

Q: Beautifully said.

Courtesy of CBS Films

See Five Feet Apart in theaters Friday, March 15th

Express Yourself!

Do you have Cystic Fibrosis or know someone who does? Do you feel that people with serious illnesses still deserve to live life fully, fall in love, etc.? Do you love romance movies in which the lovers face big challenges?  Talk all about it with a comment and/or post on your Kidzworld profile page!