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 Everlasting, Ladder 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?