Grown-up Haley Joel Osment returns, creates monsters in 'Wake the Dead'

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Image Credit: Andy Kropa/Getty Images

Twelve years after he creeped us all out in The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment is still seeing dead people. Only this time around, he’s using them as science projects.

Osment has signed on to star in Wake the Dead, one of Hollywood’s million-and-one upcoming adaptations of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story Frankenstein. In Wake the Dead, based on Steven Niles’ Frankenstein-themed graphic novels, he’s slated to play Victor Franklin, a college student morbidly experimenting with the limits of human death. Jay Russell (Tuck EverlastingLadder 49) has signed on to direct.

The last time many of us saw Osment, he was starring in family-friendly kiddie fare like Secondhand Lions and eagerly awaiting the arrival of puberty. Wake the Dead marks the latest return for Osment to big-budget feature films after keeping a relatively low profile since 2003. (He’s also set to appear in the comedy Sassy Pants.) The one-time child star spent much of the last eight years contributing voice work to the Kingdom Hearts video game series and appearing sporadically in smaller films like 2007’s Home of the Giants, as well as working toward a college degree.

Now 23 (23! Anyone else feel old?), Osment returns to Hollywood with a college degree from NYU, roles in multiple projects, and – dare we say it? – probably some chest hair. And with Wake the Dead now on the books, it looks like he’s ready to terrify us all over again — a good thing, if you ask me. If box office earnings can tell us anything, it’s that we’ve always overwhelmingly preferred Osment in spooky, supernatural roles over pinch-your-cheeks cute ones. His bone-chilling turn opposite Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense and his robot Pinocchio act in A.I. both contributed to global box-office numbers in the hundred millions — compare that to The Country Bears, which grossed just over $18 million worldwide, and it’s clear that we like Osment for his scary rather than his, uh… bear-y. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that a little someone named Steven Spielberg spearheaded A.I.) Considering that, perhaps Osment’s advanced age won’t hurt the former child star.

PopWatchers, weigh in: Can the baby-faced kid who “paid it forward” now convincingly create a monster? And are you, like me, hoping that one of his projects could come out already so we can stop writing posts about his possible comeback?

Read more:
Haley Joel Osment to star in coming-of-age comedy. But can the child star come of age himself?
Haley Joel Osment eyes a comeback. Let’s give the kid some encouragement.

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Comments (20 total) Add your comment
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  • crispy

    Is that a mullet?

  • Makeith

    Yeah, he needs to cut his hair; he looks weird!

  • KC

    Fix your collar, young man!

  • UGH

    Haha. Look at that tuft of chest hair poking out. I can hear him with one of those awkard puberty voices.

    • JLS

      Haha? Being 23 with chest hair deserves teasing?

      • UGH

        That’ll teach me for not reading through the article! I thought he was much younger!

  • LoveforPeace

    Will M. Night Shyamalan be one of his subjects? Like Alfred Hitchcock maybe? I think he is a terrific actor.

  • LoveforPeace

    How about a George C. Scott homage?

  • Faris

    He’ll be fine. (I think)

  • LoveforPeace

    I wonder how they will promote this movie. Will it be filled with really lame jokes? Jokes that could get someone killed? Now THAT would be a REAL HORROR movie.

  • LoveforPeace

    Hey EW, are you gonna get the cast of this movie to play detective with you?

  • LoveforPeace

    How about an X Files mashup? Wouldn’t that be funny?

  • DanB2666

    CUT YOUR HAIR!!

  • lefty

    James van der Beek’s worse-off clone?

  • kevininphx

    I think he looks good. He was one of those cute kids who looked like adult features weren’t going to be pretty. But he turned out quite well.

    • whatevs

      I agree with your first sentence.

  • GavinStrick

    I thought that he was amazing in A.I. (probably one of the best child acting jobs ever) if he follows the Daniel Radcliff model of carefully chosing his projects I see no reason why he can’t become a first class adult actor (see also Leo De Caprio for how it’s done.)

  • Josh

    If he can still act, I say he could make a comeback. Then again, Macauly (Or however the hell you spell his first name) Culkin didn’t. And lord help him if he had been on TV, liek Danny Bonnaduce or Dustin Diamond. He may be alright. Maybe. He should choose his projects carefully like Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Daniel Radcliffe before him.

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