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Haley Joel Osment - Actor

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A frightened boy

Haley Joel Osment, arguably the most famous child actor of today, was born on 10 April, 1988, in Los Angeles, California. According to his official web site, Haley was 'discovered' in a shopping mall, where a camera had been set up and passers-by could do a screen test. Haley had a go - just for fun - and as a result landed a commercial for Pizza Hut. This launched Haley's career. In 1994 he got a part in the made-for-TV movie Lies of the Heart: The Laurie Kellogg Story as well as roles and guest appearances in television series and a small but significant part in the feature film Forrest Gump alongside Tom Hanks.

Haley landed his first major role in a feature film in 1996's Bogus, where he starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg and Gérard Dépardieu. With a sweet long haircut, Haley played a boy whose mother died and who was sent to live with her best friend. The boy spends all of his time with Bogus, his imaginary friend.

The world really took notice of Haley in 1999 when he starred in The Sixth Sense as the haunted Cole Sears. Haley was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor) for his role in this film. At the time, he was one of the youngest people ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award.

The following year, Haley starred in another film, Pay It Forward, about a young boy who tries to change the world. Mimi Leder, the film's director, described Haley as a 'genius and a phenomenon', saying he was extremely mature and focussed when acting, but like a normal boy the rest of the time. Haley's adult co-stars described him in a similar way.

It is said that at one point it was suggested that Haley would play the title role in the Harry Potter films, despite being American. However Steven Spielberg, who was planning to use Haley, did not end up directing Harry Potter, and Daniel Radcliffe got the role of Harry. Steven Spielberg instead cast Haley in AI: Artificial Intelligence in the same year, where Haley played a robot called David1. Continuing his acting well into his teenage years, Haley starred in Secondhand Lions alongside Michael Caine2 and Robert Duvall.

As well as normal acting, Haley has done a fair bit of voice acting for films and computer games, including leading roles in The Jungle Book 2 and Kingdom Hearts. Haley has said about his acting:

I try to keep away from being bigheaded. That's what causes people to lose the acting thing. They start being commercial, and then they stink for the rest of their life. But there are several respected adult actors who were child actors that started very young. I'm going to try and model myself after Kurt Russell and Jodie Foster. Just keep learning from the role and not just go for the money.

When he's not acting Haley attends a public school where he is a straight-A student. He likes lizards and has two as pets. His mother, Theresa, is a teacher. His father Eugene is his coach. Haley says he got his acting inspiration from his father, who is an experienced stage actor. Haley's younger sister Emily is also an actor.

1One thing that was particularly hard about this role was that Haley could never blink.2Michael Caine, interestingly enough, won the Oscar Haley was previously nominated for. However Caine claims that at the time he thought that Haley would win, and so was very complimentary of Haley in his acceptance speech.

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