Haley Joel Osment thought he was completed for the day. It was 1998 and the 10-year-old was capturing The Sixth Sense, directed by M Evening Shyamalan. With 10 minutes left on set, they wished to squeeze in a brief scene. It required Osment’s terrified character, who, memorably, sees useless folks, to confront a bloody ghost. Osment needed to get into the fitting mindset, quick. The younger actor threw himself towards a door, repeatedly, till he was sufficiently shaken. “If they’d known I was going to do it, they probably would have stopped me,” he says of Shyamalan and the opposite adults on set. “It came to me spontaneously – and I guess it worked.”
I see little of that depth within the 32-year-old man going through me by way of Zoom. Nonetheless boyish-looking, regardless of a darkish beard, Osment is upbeat and fast to chuckle. He returned to his dwelling city of Los Angeles final autumn, after 13 years in New York, and located this home per week earlier than lockdown, when he was capturing a forthcoming sequence of Goliath for Amazon. After the extraordinary success of The Sixth Sense – a field workplace phenomenon, his efficiency lauded by critics and rewarded with an Oscar nomination, whereas his character’s most well-known line rapidly grew to become a catchphrase – he has loved a unique sort of profession currently. He works steadily, on display however by some means beneath the radar, most likely not recognised because the Sixth Sense child by most of his audiences.
In recent times, he has appeared on TV in What We Do within the Shadows, The Kominsky Methodology, Silicon Valley, Lecturers and The Boys. Final 12 months he had a supporting position within the Ted Bundy movie Extraordinarily Depraved, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Since lockdown, he says, there was “endless opportunity for quiet reflection at home”, together with on his time as a baby star.
Although his father, Eugene, was an actor (and ran a theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard), Osment fell into appearing by likelihood, after being noticed on the age of 4 in Ikea. His first display look was in an advert for Pizza Hut in 1993, which led to him being approached by the casting director for Forrest Gump. Forrest Jr was solely a small half for five-year-old Osment, however his display check with Tom Hanks nonetheless circulates on social media, because of their heartwarming double act – and Osment’s cuteness.
Shyamalan had fearful that Osment was an excessive amount of of a “cherub” to forged in The Sixth Sense. However the boy was additionally serious-minded and precocious. For Osment’s closing audition of three for The Sixth Sense, he wore a go well with. The director has stated he was moved to tears by the boy’s vulnerability and depth, particularly in his supply of the now-classic line: “I see dead people.”
“I’d been working with it for such a long time, the material was really ready by the time I saw him,” Osment says. His dad had helped him to arrange for the audition and formed his early profession. “His relationship to the craft was so resistant to doing stuff that didn’t have a purpose and wasn’t quality work,” says Osment. “There’s always going to be plenty of opportunities to bail out for a big pay cheque … so to have someone like that, who really cared about protecting artistic value before I was old enough to understand what that meant, was such an important influence.”
On set, Osment was additionally bolstered by Shyamalan and his co-star, Bruce Willis. “I don’t think I could have done it, had there not been that sense that they believed in me.” Though Shyamalan himself was solely 28, and beneath strain to ship on his multimillion greenback script, he didn’t push that on to his forged, says Osment. “I remember him dribbling a basketball from his director’s chair between lighting changes. He just projected calm.”
Willis, too, was satisfied of the movie’s success, telling Shyamalan that he had felt the identical means in making Pulp Fiction. There was the sense that “we were building this story together”, Osment says. In these pivotal early years, he says he by no means felt manipulated, or negatively motivated to carry out. “That’s why it’s still something that I love doing, almost 30 years later.”
Osment was nominated for an Oscar for finest supporting actor in The Sixth Sense however misplaced to Michael Caine. Caine praised Osment in his speech: “Haley, when I saw you I thought: well, that’s me out of it.” (“Probably a better outcome than me winning,” says Osment, warmly.)
A string of blockbusters adopted – beginning with, in 2000, the drama Pay It Ahead, with Kevin Spacey. Allegations of Spacey’s predatory behaviour had been “a shock to me, as [they were] to a lot of people”, says Osment. He says he felt “super-safe” on each movie he labored on as a baby – not least as a result of he was at all times accompanied by both Eugene or his mom, Theresa. “They had a policy of never letting me go off alone on a shoot.” In addition they strived to minimise disruption to his training, whilst his star continued to rise. Appearing “was something I went off and did, like going to camp”, he says.
Then Osment discovered himself again in school, the place “the big news of fifth grade” was Nintendo 64 and a brand new Star Wars movie. It was an simple “shift in gear”, he says, however one which felt pure to navigate. He was not handled as a star and since The Sixth Sense was categorised as unsuitable for kids beneath the age of 13, he says: “Most kids in my class didn’t even see it.”
Osment’s youthful sister, Emily, 28, had “a way tougher path” to fame, says Osment, enjoying Miley Cyrus’s finest buddy, Lilly, on the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana. “That show was squarely aimed towards creating a mania in that age group. She had to deal with a lot more strange invasions of privacy, not being able to have a normal school life. And what exacerbated all of that was she had to be on social media. I resisted until I was, like, 27.”
In 2006, aged 18, Osment moved to New York to review experimental theatre at New York College. His mother and father wished him to go to school and Osment wished the faculty expertise. “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 says.
In 2008, he made his Broadway debut, enjoying a heroin addict in a revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo, to combined opinions. Publish-graduation, in 2011, a spate of oddballs and villains adopted, from an obnoxious millionaire within the movie Entourage to a greasy-haired Nazi in Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers and a virgin instructor in Intercourse Ed. “That was definitely a very fun period of playing a lot of bad guys,” says Osment. He agrees it might need been a belated rise up towards his angelic childhood picture: actually, Osment says, he grew a beard “to try to hide in public. That didn’t really work at all.”
His public path via adolescence was “free of major indiscretion”, as the New Yorker approvingly put it. In 2006, driving whereas drunk, he overturned his automobile, for which he was fined, sentenced to rehabilitation and placed on probation for 3 years. However that was the “terrible mistake” of an conceited teenager in car-centric Los Angeles, says Osment. “It could not have had less to do with Hollywood.”
The favored narrative of the kid star could be the “spectacular blowup”, he agrees, “but I think the percentage of people having a positive experience working as children is much higher than most people imagine.” You simply don’t hear concerning the youngster actors who “move on to something else that works for them”, or who’ve such lengthy careers their youthful roles recede within the rear view, says Osment.
“Being an actor, you can never count on things being smash successes all the time. I remember having that feeling with The Sixth Sense – like, ‘It’s not always gonna be like that.’” He hopes his subsequent transfer can be behind the scenes, into writing and directing, which was a part of his motivation for returning to Los Angeles, he says.
Whilst he begins the following stage of his profession, he doesn’t resent being requested concerning the previous. “I’m lucky to have a positive relationship with those periods that can sometimes be difficult for other people.” Relating to his early success, he says: “I feel like I’m always building on it.”