OSMENT, HALEY JOEL: A.I
The kid next door wanted to be a
paleontologist when he was three; now he can be anything he wants
to be, including a robot boy. Andrew L. Urban meets the lucky 13
year old Haley Joel Osment.
Haley Joel Osment waves cheerily as he walks into the hotel room
for our interview, like any normal 13 year old, shakes hands
nicely and sits down. The neat light brown hair and blue eyes are
just as you’d expect after seeing him on screen; he’s
in a short sleeved light blue check shirt and dark blue casual
trousers, with brown lace ups, neatly knotted. A kid next door.
Any door. Almost.
‘We’ means Haley and Eugene; Eugene is Mr Osment, the
surprisingly young looking actor and Haley’s father, who
sits quietly through the interview. When scripts come in –
which they do – “dad and I read them and make choices
depending on the story…we’re always attracted by
originality. Things that are unique. And we always agree, pretty
The thing that sets Haley apart is his experience in talking
grown up stuff with journalists. The answers are eloquent, not
too smart or precocious, well considered. For example, when asked
whether The Sixth Sense was his favourite role, he is diplomatic.
It was a great role, but no, not the one that stands out most.
They’re all so different…and that’s what ‘we’
“we’re always attracted
by originality. Things that are unique”
Haley would think it great fun to play “a villain,”
and he is actively looking for a good comedy. In the meantime, he
is promoting his latest film.
Haley is in Australia to promote A.I. – Artficial
Intelligence, in which he has the starring role of David, the
prototype robot boy adopted by Henry and Monica Swinton (Sam
Robards and Frances O’Connor). Travel is part of “cool
stuff” that accompanies movie stardom. He’s already
been to Japan four times, but on this his first Australian tour,
he’s put Australia among the cool list, after two days of
tourism which included visits to the zoo – kangaroos and
koalas were a big hit – a Sydney harbour cruise, the Blue
Mountains, and a wildlife park where some eager local ‘roos
tried robbing visitors of ice cream cones, much to the Osments’
amusement. One tried nibbling Eugene’s sleeve and when
Eugene objected, he got a kick in his side.
“my parents have done a good
job of keeping my feet on the ground”
Away from the film set, Haley is a keen little sportsman (basketball,
biking, etc) and enjoys writing projects at school –
everything from sci-fi to historical fiction, which he also likes
His life outside movies is “pretty normal . . .my parents
have done a good job of keeping my feet on the ground.” It
sounds like a precocious thing to say, but he does it without
affectation or false modesty.
Like most kids, he likes animals and has two pet leopard geckos.
(No, I didn’t know what they are either; they’re geckos
the size of a large lizard, they have eyelids and look like
Although attracted to acting at an early age by watching his
father and thinking how much fun it was to play pretends, his
first ambition – as a three year old – was triggered by
a fascination for dinosaurs. “I wanted to be a
paleontologist…” And as Eugene recalls, Haley was just
three years old when he first uttered that word. “And
impressed all my friends,” says Eugene.
Bet they’re even more impressed now.
Published September 13, 2001
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