Dylan told Vulture that he and twin brother Cole Sprouse wanted more creative control, and Disney wasn't about to give in.
"I mean, we had a really awesome idea for where the show needed to go. We were 18," Dylan told the site. "If that isn't old enough to know exactly what the show needs, then … well, I would beg to disagree."
Dylan said the twins frequently said no to Disney, and even picked the roles they wanted. Cole wanted to be the mature Cody, while Dylan picked the rambunctious Zack.
"I don't think [Disney] were willing to work with us, really ever. So we stopped the show," he said.
Dylan and Cole had been inseparable professionally since they were 8-month-old babies in a diaper commercial. They starred in The Suite Life, its spin-offs and movies until 2011. That year, they both enrolled at NYU, with Dylan studying video game design and Cole going into photography.
Since then, they have gone their separate ways. Cole resumed his acting career by playing Jughead on The CW's Riverdale. Dylan still plans on staying outside mainstream routes. He's worked on video games and made small indie films.
"I think Cole's in a place where he's very happy right now, whereas I would be happiest doing more films with a lower budget — independent, expressive, really small-scale," Dylan told Vulture. "I tend to enjoy roles that I very closely identify with: fringe people and complicated characters, who might even be bad guys, or bad characters that have one redeeming quality. That's closer to my idea of what my acting trajectory should be."
Dylan also said he's grown to hate the phrase "former child star."
"That term is so derogatory. Isn't it always derogatory? Even 'young actor' sounds better," Sprouse told Vulture. "You're already in a box. But they put you in a smaller box inside that box. It also implies past tense. It implies you've already failed, right? I was actually naïve enough to think that people wouldn't think of it in that way."
Dylan is now filming Banana Split, an indie directed by cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke.
Photo credit: Instagram/ Dylan Sprouse