In Hollywood, it can be challenging for child stars to adapt to the more mature side of acting as they grow older. These young and ambitious kids may do well in their early years but unfortunately fall off as they grow older. However, some kid stars make it early on and still find a way to stay successful as the years progress.
Haley Joel Osment is undoubtedly most remembered for his breakthrough performance in the 1999 psychological thriller “The Sixth Sense,” playing opposite Bruce Willis. Most people would be able to recall his famous line: “I see dead people.” Osment’s turn in the film won him a Saturn Award, as well as nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Prior to acting in “The Sixth Sense,” Osment began his career as a child star in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” alongside Tom Hanks. As the decade turned, Osment continued to act and appeared in a multitude of films in various genres, proving to be a great talent at such a young age. While it’s common for child actors to take breaks from Hollywood to pursue school or other dreams, or their careers just don’t pan out the way they had planned, Osment has continued to work hard in La La Land and stay relevant in an ever-changing industry.
Nowadays, Osment is 34 years old and has grown up to be quite the handsome actor while still showcasing his plethora of talents. Read on to learn more about Osment’s ambitious career and what he is up to today.
Haley Joel Osment (circa 2000), (Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images)
Osment was born on Apr. 10, 1988, in Los Angeles, California. He is the son of Theresa, a teacher, and Michael Eugene Osment, a theater and film actor. He also has one sister, actress Emily Osment, best known for her role as Lilly in the Disney series “Hannah Montana.”
During his younger years, Osment was very active in sports such as wrestling, basketball, football and golf, along with being a child actor. According to The Guardian, Osment became an actor by chance, despite the fact that his father was an actor and ran a theater on Santa Monica Boulevard. At age 4, Osment was spotted in an Ikea and went on to appear in an ad for a pizza company in 1993. Afterward, he landed the role of Forrest Jr. in “Forrest Gump” when he was just 5 years old.
It wasn’t long before Osment landed the role that many people today still recognize: Cole Sear in “The Sixth Sense.” According to The Guardian, director M. Night Shyamalan was worried that the young star was too much of a “cherub” to play such a dark role, but Osment’s sheer “vulnerability and depth” ultimately won him over.
Osment was grateful to Shyamalan and leading man Willis for believing in him and for his knowledgeable father’s help. “I don’t think I could have done it, had there not been that sense that they believed in me,” he said.
“I realize that I’m very lucky,” Osment said, as per Far Out. “Because there were other kids who maybe didn’t have parents that looked out for them, or worked on film sets that were not wholesome, or where they were not protected. But that was not my experience.”
Haley Joel Osment (2000), (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
While many people may think child stardom would come with plenty of popularity at school, that isn’t always the case. On top of that, some children have to switch from physically going to school with other kids their age to being homeschooled to adjust to their new busy lives as working stars.
However, unlike other child stars, Osment found himself working mostly in more mature films – films that many of his classmates and fellow peers probably wouldn’t have even been allowed to watch at the time due to their age. Instead of starring alongside Disney or Nickelodeon stars, Osment found himself working with some of the greats like Willis, Hanks and Michael Caine.
Because of this, Osment wasn’t really hounded by his peers about being in films since many of them hadn’t seen his work. He explained:
“It intruded less on my personal life that I wasn’t in things that were being watched by my age rank. So going back to school, it wasn’t like I was on a show that everybody at school was watching at the same time, and I think it made the growing-up process a little bit easier. Even going back to sixth grade after ‘The Sixth Sense,’ that was a movie that my classmates were too young to see.”
Instead, Osment noted that child stars who are in children’s programs tend to have more pressure on them, such as his younger sister Emily. She was a huge star on the Disney channel, appearing in “Hannah Montana,” “Jonas,” “The Suite Life on Deck” and more.
Haley Joel Osment (circa 2000), (Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images)
On the topic of other notable stars who found fame at an early age, Osment also spoke about Zac Efron. Efron first skyrocketed to fame with the leading role of Troy Bolton in the “High School Musical” franchise. Following the first film’s release in 2006, Efron instantly became a teen idol and a major heartthrob.
Speaking about Emily and Efron’s experience as famous Disney stars, Osment said, “Being on those shows that were hugely popular with their own age groups, I think there’s a lot more pressure and a lot more scrutiny, so I admire them both for coming through it.”
Later in his career, Osment actually had the opportunity to work alongside Efron in the film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” It was definitely a more mature step for Efron and was right on track with the type of film that many people would associate with Osment.
But before Osment was able to really appreciate his work as a child star, he still had some growing up to do. According to The Guardian, Osment moved to New York at 18 to study experimental theater at New York University. “I did work that practically nobody saw for a long time, which was not a great career move – but, ultimately, was important for me to figure out whether this was what I truly wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he explained. Just two years later, Osment made his Broadway debut in “American Buffalo.” The actor graduated from college and continued finding work in the industry.
Haley Joel Osment (2001), (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images)
While he was once a young child star who had a gift for seeing those who had passed on, Osment switched it up a bit and instead played a long string of “bad guy” characters. He explained, “That was definitely a very fun period of playing a lot of bad guys.” Part of this also included Osment straying away from his baby-face image, and he even grew a beard “to try to hide in public.” However, he admitted that it “didn’t really work at all.”