Haley Joel Osment in 'Sex Ed' Proves the 'Sixth Sense' Prodigy is Dead & Gone
It's been 15 years since he's seen dead people. When I chatted with Haley Joel Osment about his career reinvention, his penchant for theatre and his latest comedy, Sex Ed, we didn't even mention his Oscar-nominated role. It's been a lifetime since The Sixth Sense hit theatres, and Osment isn't a toe-headed little boy anymore.
"As you get older, the roles you're able to do expand. When I was a kid, there weren't a whole lot of opportunities to play bad guys," he said. "So in the past year, I've been playing more villainous characters, some unsavory guys, which has been a lot of fun."
And one of these characters, a greasy Nazi sympathizer in Yoga Hosers, has put the usually under-the-radar Osment back into the public eye. "It's not a popular look, the armband and everything," Osment, who transformed his physical appearance for the role, told US Weekly.
But by now, Osment isn't out to prove his versatility. His past few years in film have conquered drama, comedy, voice-acting and television spots. But at the time of landing Sex Ed, about a twenty-something virgin who falls into teaching sex ed to middle schoolers, Osment was hungering for comedic roles. "I just believed in it as a funny story," he said. "It's the story of a rouge teacher with good intentions."
The Isaac Feder-directed film has the heart of School of Rock, with the comedic sensibilites of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But unlike Steve Carell's desperate for love protagonist, Osment's Eddie isn't desperate to get laid. "He isn't paranoid or insecure about it. He does want a girlfriend, but not just to... It's about waiting for the right opportunity to come along," he said. "It is a movie that has some raunchy stuff in it, but his realization at the end is a pretty conservative, family-friendly decision — which is just to wait until he's ready."
Ironically, the film, which boasts an R-rating and features a slew of not-family friendly jokes, was praised by both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Church. "Planned Parenthood was advised for the film. Eddie makes a lot of mistakes in the things he's teaching. So when he does get things right we wanted to make sure we were actually saying the right stuff," he said. "In terms of the Catholic Church, in the movie we're trying to say that parents should have the decision over how their kids receive sex education — but it should be available for kids who want it or kids who don't have parents able to provide it for them."
The film's message might be sound, but the character of Eddie, surrounded by his own motley crew of friend's offering conflicting advice, must come to terms with his own idea of what's right and wrong. "Through all this, his friends are trying to help him but are often giving him not so great advice," he explained. "Part of him growing up means he needs to realize for himself what it means to be a man and not rely on other people's expectations like him should be doing."
And part of growing up for Osment means embracing what he wants out of his acting career. "Television, film, theatre — they inform eachother. If I've gone a long time without doing theatre I get the itch to go back. To do a run on a play or a film shoot, the next time you go back to a different medium you work out your muscles and it makes you better."
But even motivated actors like Osmet need a relaxing extra-curricular. "I'm a big sports fan, so with football season now, I'm in a bunch of fantasy leagues and survivor leagues and all that. Sunday is X'ed out on my calendar for several months out of the year because of the NFL," he confessed.
Sex Ed hits theatres November 7, but you can catch Osment in Season 2 of Alpha House, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Watch the trailer for Sex Ed below:
Images: Marvista Entertainment; Getty