Cosmopolitan — Haley Lu Richardson on ‘Five Feet Apart’ and What It’s Really Like to Work with Cole Sprouse: This March, Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse will surely tug at your heartstrings with the release of their new film, Five Feet Apart. They play Stella and Will, two teens who fall in love while dealing with their respective battles with cystic fibrosis.
Since making a name for herself in 2013 with a recurring role on ABC Family’s Ravenswood and playing Hailee Steinfeld’s BFF in The Edge of Seventeen, Richardson has continued to pave her own way in Hollywood. Her recent co-stars have included James McAvoy (Split), John Cho (Columbus), and Regina Hall (Support the Girls), and she’s only just getting started. Her dream role? “I want to bring back dance movies, bring back the dancer-actor, the double threat, because I can’t sing,” Richardson tells Cosmopolitan. “I want to tell stories about dancers and let dance be a way of expression and storytelling in a way that’s perfected and taken seriously.”
Until then, Richardson has her plate full with work and oh, planning for a wedding that might not happen for a while. In 2018, Richardson and her longtime beau, Jane the Virgin actor Brett Dier, announced their engagement after Richardson popped the question. “We’ve been together for seven years. We just want to take our time. We’re still not used to the word fiancé. It’s so pretentious in saying it. Neither of us are used to it. We still call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. We’re just engaged. And I love Brett. And we’ll get married one day.”
On working with her fiancé, Brett Dier, on the Cosmo shoot:
We’ve never done a photo shoot together but I loved it. I honestly get so weird because I don’t know how to pose. I’m not a model and also it’s really hard for me to take myself seriously. Brett’s like that too. We both kind of just screwed around the whole time and laughed and did weird poses. I picked his nose, I think, in one of the pictures.
On a typical date night:
We went through a Skip Bo phase, it’s the best game in the world. I’m pretty sure it’s for 2 to 12 year-olds but we went through a huge phase for a year and a half where we played that every single night when we weren’t working. And now we’re in a Scrabble phase, we sit by the fire in our house and play Scrabble on the floor. Neither of us really know how to spell that well, so we just spell really small words. Once in a while I’ll put on makeup and he’ll wear shoes and pants and we’ll go out for dinner. But that’s pretty rare.
On finding balance at home with a fellow actor:
We’re still figuring that out. It’s definitely a weird thing. Acting is such a unique strange bizarre profession. It’s not so much the acting part that’s bizarre about it, although it’s bizarre to show up to work and pretend to be a different person in your 20s. it’s so bizarre because it feels so personal. Acting, the actual act of acting is such a persona thing. It connects to your emotions and you have to be so vulnerable at work. And it feels so personal, all the other stuff, random people in Seattle or Brazil knowing who you are and think they know who you are. It just all feels so personal. So it’s hard to not bring that home and have that be the topic of conversation. We just want to come home and play Scrabble and Skip Bo and just make jokes and talk about things that are just real. Priorities, having priorities is probably the thing that I’ve learned is the most helpful. To not have that take over your life and know what’s really important. For me, that’s family and time to myself and Brett, crocheting. That’s the kind of stuff that I love and I feel like defines me more than acting. I think Brett’s the same way.
On proposing to Brett:
Oh yeah, I did do that. Here’s the thing. I didn’t prepare at all. I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I was going to ask someone to marry me that day. I was totally in the moment and this gut feeling came up and coerced me to ask him to marry me and I did. And he said yes. I feel like the trick to that was just not thinking about it at all before it happened. I just kind of did it.
We were at this outdoor strip mall eating pizza when it happened. When we were crying and having this really amazing moment that I’ll never forget, crying and holding each other and saying oh my gosh, we’re going to get married, we’re going to be together forever, we were like, we’re gonna have to do something about it because we didn’t have any rings. So we went over to this bush and got these twigs and each knelt down one at a time and tied these twigs around our ring fingers. We have them saved in a little baggie. My engagement ring now, it’s custom made, it’s a really simple ring but it’s engraved like a twig.
It was just the best day ever. It’s the best my heart has ever felt. I never knew my heart could feel that good.
On dealing with the serious tone of Five Feet Apart:
I just watched the movie recently for the first time and I feel like you can see the fun we were having in the movie. Bringing joy and life to these characters, it just goes to show that these kids and people who have cystic fibrosis, they live their life anyway. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when my character says, “My whole life I’ve been living for my treatments instead of doing my treatments so that I could live.” That affected me so much and I hope that it gets to people; it can be a very broad things, the message of even if you have something that’s holding you back and you have to do something, keep going and fight. You’re fighting it to live. You don’t have to hand over your whole soul to that thing, to that monster.
On her first impression of Cole Sprouse:
The first time I met him was at this dinner and I didn’t know what to be expect. That’s another thing I try to do, I try not to have expectations and honestly all I knew about him was the fact that he was on Suite Life with Zack and Cody. I’m not really up with all the cool things, I didn’t really know about Riverdale much. I was like, oh he’s the kid from Disney and I’m doing a movie with him. You know the thing I was really shocked about was how artistic he is and how he takes things really seriously. He’s really smart and he’s really artistic in a genuine way, not in an artsy way. He’s an actual artist. I really appreciated that about working with him because we were really serious about these characters and wanting to do the best with them and do it in a grounded artful way. I was surprised by that with him.