See Former Child Star Haley Joel Osment Now at 34
The Sixth Sense actor has fond memories of his early career.
Before he hit puberty, Haley Joel Osment had already starred in two of the biggest blockbuster dramas of all time, earned an Oscar nomination, and cemented his place in pop culture history by uttering the iconic line, "I see dead people." As it is for many actors who made their mark as preadolescents, the road to adulthood was a bit bumpy for the former child star. But Osment is still acting and has aspirations behind the camera as well. Keep reading to find out where his career has taken him over the years and what he's doing today at age 34.
His career slowed down as he aged out of kid parts.
Osment's role as a haunted young boy in The Sixth Sense cemented his status as one of the most celebrated child performers ever and earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. But by then, he'd already built up an impressive résumé. Soon after landing his first job—a Pizza Hut commercial—at age four, Osment was cast in the sitcom Thunder Alley alongside Ed Asner, played the son of Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump in that 1994 Oscar-winning film, and appeared on The Jeff Foxworthy Show, Walker, Texas Ranger, Ally McBeal, and Murphy Brown.
Though he followed up The Sixth Sense with a lauded turn in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, appeared alongside Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt in Pay It Forward, and co-starred with Michael Caine in Secondhand Lions, he rarely showed up onscreen during his teen years. He was busier doing voice-work for animated characters in films including Country Bears, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, and The Jungle Book 2. He also began voicing the lead character Sora in the popular video game Kingdom Hearts, first released in 2003.
Over the next 10 years, he acted sporadically, appearing in a poorly received 2008 Broadway production of David Mamet's American Buffalo and a few independent and direct-to-DVD films.
He moved to New York City to escape the spotlight and attend college.
Though he seems to have made the transition from child star to adult more easily than some of his more troubled peers, Osment did have a few struggles along the way. In 2006, when he was 18, he was injured in a car crash in Los Angeles and later pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol and misdemeanor drug possession.
That same year, Osment moved to New York City to study experimental theater at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. "It just felt really important for me to do it at that age," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. "There's only going to be one opportunity when you're 18 years old and you move to a different city and you're studying acting around people that are all your own age."
After graduation, he was eager to move beyond his former child star reputation and took on loser and villain roles in films including the 2014 comedy Sex Ed and the low-budget Kevin Smith horror thriller Tusk. He lampooned himself with a guest appearance on Entourage, appeared in 12 episodes of the Prime Video political satire Alpha House, and showed off his sense of humor on the sketch comedy series Comedy Bang! Bang! and Drunk History. He even grew a beard in order to "try to hide in public," he told The Guardian in 2020.
He watched his sister's star rise.
Osment isn't the only actor in his family. His sister Emily Osment, who is four years younger, followed him into the spotlight at a young age, appearing in commercials and '90s TV shows including Touched by and Angel and Friends before taking bigger roles in the Spy Kids series and the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana, alongside Miley Cyrus.
Watching his sister's career led Osment to reflect on his own. Her path to fame was "way tougher," he told The Guardian.
'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," he continued. "I resisted until I was, like, 27."
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He's returned to acting but hopes to write and direct.
These days, Osment is still acting. He was a series regular in the Hulu sci-fi series Future Man, played a dim-witted tech investor in HBO's Silicon Valley, acted opposite Zac Efron in the serial killer drama Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and guested on shows including The X-Files, The Boys, What We Do in the Shadows, The Kominsky Method (with his sister Emily), and the final season of the Prime Video legal drama Goliath.
Almost two decadees after he began, Osment still voices Sora in the Kingdom Hearts games, the fourth of which was announced earlier this year. "I never could have expect at the time I could have been a 20-year relationship with a character," he told Deadline in April. "It is by far the longest I've had with any project of any kind."
He hopes his next career move will take him behind the camera—after 13 years in New York, he recently moved back to LA to try to make it happen, he told The Guardian—but he doesn't regret his time as a child star. "I think the percentage of people having a positive experience working as children is much higher than most people imagine," he said. "I'm lucky to have a positive relationship with those periods that can sometimes be difficult for other people."