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After scene-stealing roles playing precocious kids in Forrest Gump, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment’s cute little mug became a familiar face back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Thanks to a supporting roles in last month’s Kevin Smith horror movie Tusk and his upcoming starring role in Sex Ed, Osment, now 26, is back on the big-screen.
And he’s not so innocent anymore, as you can see in our exclusive first Sex Ed trailer above. (The movie hits theaters and VOD on Nov. 7.) In the coming-of-age comedy, Osment plays an after-school teacher who, after noticing his pubescent students’ lack of sexual knowledge, decides to teach them about the birds and the bees, much to the chagrin of their parents. Also a problem: The teach just happens to be a virgin. So should we call this Osment’s comeback? “I can understand people are saying that, because when I was in college and not making a lot of studio movies and everything for those years. I’m not surprised that you sort of drop out of people’s perception,” Osment tells Yahoo Movies. In truth he’s been working all along, including earning his degree at NYU in the Experimental Theater wing.
Sex Ed found Osment in the odd position as the adult on set with a bunch of youngsters. The actor found the paradigm shift intriguing, but was hesitant about giving too much advice. “That’s the good thing when you’re working with kids: You’re not trying to teach them the philosophy of acting or everything,” he says. “If they understand the story, and they’re understanding what’s going on in the scene, it’s pretty simple.”
Since Sex Ed is kind of a raunchy comedy, we wondered if Osment took the role to try and shake his old child actor persona. “We were just trying to make a funny movie, and it ended up coming at a time where I guess people could see a transition into different things. But that sort of just happened by chance,” says Osment. He went on to comment on how he seeks out roles now, saying “You want to try to find different roles. And that’s almost harder when you’re a kid, because it’s not like you’re going to be playing villains and troubled people when you’re 12 years old.” Wait, that kid who saw dead people wasn’t troubled? “I guess that would be one exception,” acknowledges Osment.
Since we were on the subject of The Sixth Sense, we couldn’t help but ask him about one of the most famous lines in film: "I see dead people." Did he know how quotable it would end up being? “How much it’s endured continues to surprise me,” he says. “I was at a Dodgers game a couple of weeks ago and they did movie quote trivia…. It just amazes me that of all the films in the past 15 years that that one has endured so much,” says Osment. “It’s just crazy, because we shot that scene and made that movie and nobody was putting that line on the call sheet or saying it was going to be on the poster or anything. It just slipped by us completely.”
Photos: Marvista Entertainment