Photos of Dylan Sprouse working at a New York cafe surfaced online this week, immediately spawning stories claiming the former "Suite Life" star was in dire financial straits.
AccessHollywood.com spoke with the 21-year-old actor, who shot down any rumors of financial woes and expressed his disappointment over Internet reaction.
"[The backlash] was surprising because in no way do I look at any other job as a step down," Dylan told Access, of witnessing the overwhelmingly negative responses — and the misconceptions --surrounding his new job. "For a variety of reasons, it's just a step in a new direction – try my hand at something else.
"Popular media dictates that anything besides acting is a step down… and I don't necessarily agree with that notion in many ways," he added. "I think there are a variety of different things to learn in many different fields that we simply cannot know doing just one job. I personally love to stay busy and keep my work ethic up, and I thought this was a really cool opportunity to do that."
One reason he took the job was to learn more about the inner-workings of a restaurant business for a potential entrepreneurial opportunity with twin brother Cole and dad Matthew.
"My brother, my father and I have been interested in opening up restaurants of our own in different locations, but between the three of us have no formal knowledge of how it's run at all," Dylan explained. "So, part of the reason for me taking this job was also to gain insight as to how a business is properly run in the food industry."
The actor – now in his junior year at NYU – said he deliberately chose a cafe near the university that he had frequented many times.
"[The job] was at a place I like and had spent a lot of money at, so I thought why not work at a place I like and actually just make money instead of spending money on meals?" he said.
So, have the Sprouse brothers – who, in 2010, were the highest paid Disney television actors – lost their fortune?
"No, no," Dylan said with a laugh, when asked if there was any truth to the "broke" rumors. "My brother and I are… in a lot of senses, we are financially secure and we will continue to be financially secure for the majority of our lives, unless we [screw] up. And we don't intend on messing up anytime soon!"
While he doesn't "need" the money, Dylan, who is majoring in video game design, said it is nice to have a little extra spending cash from his café job to spend on gaming.
"[Another] reason I took this job as well, is to have some pocket cash on the side to pay off my video game habits," he said.
And the actor said he plans on trying multiple non-acting jobs in the future, just to earn new experiences.
"I'd really like to try my hand at something like zoo-keeping or animal rehabilitation would be really cool," he said. "But also, as I'm majoring video game design, I really want to put a game out there too."
As for when (and if) we'll see Dylan and Cody back on the small or big screen, the actor said "potentially."
"I don't want to put any stock into it, but it's definitely in the back of my mind. Primarily, the reason Cole and I got into to college was to get away from the public eye for a little bit, simply because if we were to come out of a six-year running show and jump right into acting, we would be typecast," he explained. "So we thought this was the best way for people to forget us, whilst getting an education and bettering our lives.
"In doing so, we're still sort of trucking along with that idea until college is done," he continued. "If after that we decide to get back into acting, that's something that could happen."
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