Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reverend's Interview: Haley Joel Osment, From “I See Dead People” to “I Play Gay People”

When he was the ripe old age of 11, actor Haley Joel Osment was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the traumatized, ghost-plagued child in The Sixth Sense.  Soon after, he was acting for Steven Spielberg as an android yearning to be human in the Oscar-nominated sci-fi adventure A.I. Artificial Intelligence.  Other prominent roles followed in Pay It Forward and Secondhand Lions.  Then he entered college and essentially disappeared, by choice, from the public eye.

Today, Haley Osment (he drops the “Joel” in casual conversation, and has also been dubbed “HaJo” by some press wags) is back in a big way… and playing gay.  The 24-year old sports earrings, piercings and cutoff short-shorts in writer-director Coley Sohn’s debut feature, Sassy Pants.  He plays Chip, a flamboyant bartender who is also the much younger boyfriend of the heroine’s gay father.  This funny but heartfelt dramedy will screen at Outfest on Saturday, July 14th.

Osment recently spoke with me from Toronto, where he is filming I’ll Follow You Down with gay actor Victor Garber (Godspell, Titanic), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and Rufus Sewell (the current Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).  Osment is straight but clearly not concerned about that being his primary defining characteristic.

CC:  In Sassy Pants, you are sporting a very different look.  Was this your first time wearing Daisy Dukes?

HJO: Yes, it was. (Laughs)  It was a lightning-fast shoot and I showed up a few days into it.  We had a lot of fun putting this character’s look together.

CC:  What was it about this character or script that attracted you?

HJO: I read it just a week before.  They called me on a whim and asked if I would do it.  I loved the kaleidoscope, the spectrum of characters in the film.

CC:  Did you have any gay influences or models for the character?

HJO: I think we all wanted to avoid Chip being based on any one person.  However, there is an online database of hairstyles we looked at to help determine his look (laughs).

CC: What was fame at an early age like for you?

HJO: I remember it very well and really enjoyed it.  (Osment’s first big-screen appearance was actually as the title character’s son in Forrest Gump, Oscar's Best Picture of 1994.)  It had its material benefits, but I mostly enjoyed the work and the chance to look at great scripts.  That still guides me in the acting choices I make.

CC: Do you have a favorite role or film to date?

HJO: It’s hard to choose a favorite, but as an experience A.I. really stands out.  It was months of prep and shooting, learning to film underwater, and of course working with Spielberg from Stanley Kubrick’s original story.

CC: What are you working on now?

HJO: Well, I’m set to do Wake the Dead (an update of the Frankenstein story in which he’ll play a college-aged mad scientist) later this year, and may squeeze in two other films this summer.  I definitely want to do more theatre (Osment co-starred with John Leguizamo in a 2008 Broadway revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo and majored in theatre at NYU).

CC: Are you planning to attend the Outfest screening of Sassy Pants?

HJO: I’m going to try to get there.  I know there are a couple of fests (the film’s writer-director) Coley is trying to get me to.

So, dear readers, if you want to potentially meet the Oscar-nominated star of several of the most successful films of the last 18 years, plan to see Sassy Pants this weekend.

Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

1 comment:

discodevil said...

Nice to see real looking gay guys in Sassy Pants rather than the hairless buffed gay gay we so often seen in movies & TV.