This ‘angelic’ child star stayed out of the spotlight—he now looks ‘unrecognizable’ and grew a beard to hide from the public

During the most of the 1990s, Haley Joel Osment was one of the most prominent child actors globally, largely due to his performances in movies like Forrest Gump and The Sixth Sense and working alongside the likes of Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. However, his career declined as he grew older. Although he had a few voice-acting roles and cameos in the 2000s, it might seem like the former child star had completely disappeared from the spotlight.

It is pretty amazing when we see child actors grow old right before our eyes, and Osment has been one of them. When he first appeared on film, charmed audiences with his boyish innocence. During his earliest years, he was characterized with a cherubic face framed by light brown hair.

Even at a very young age, he possessed a remarkable ability to convey deep emotions, which endeared him to both audiences and critics alike.

How Osment ended up acting is an incredible story. When he was just four, someone spotted him in Ikea and believed his face is suitable for commercials. As a result, he ended up being part of a 1993 Pizza Hut ad. This commercial attracted the attention of the Forrest Gump director, who approached Osment. Although he was just five at the time, he showed incredible talent and he and Tom Hanks clicked. What’s most, his screen test with Hanks still circulates on social media.

By 1997, Osment remained active in TV and film. His appearance during this time showed some changes from his earlier years. The award-winning actor started to grow into his features, displaying a more defined look that suggested the young adult he was becoming.

In 1999, he appeared in The Sixth Sense, a role that brought him global fame. Many spoke of him as of a young man with an old soul. For his third and final audition for the movie, he wore a suit. Director M Night Shyamalan has mentioned that the boy’s vulnerability and emotional depth brought him to tears, particularly impressed by Osment’s delivery of the now-iconic line: “I see dead people.”

At the beginning of the new millennium, Osment attended the 72nd Academy Awards as a nominee, solidifying his status as one of Hollywood’s premier young talents.

By this point, his style has matured.

When he returned to school he was considered a true star although most of his classmates hadn’t seen The Sixth Sense at that point because it wasn’t suitable for children under the age of 13.

By 2002, Osment continued to work in the film industry, albeit quietly, under the radar.

He had done voice work for films like The Country Bears and The Jungle Book 2, showing his versatility. At the same time, his looks began to show signs of adolescence. He no longer resembled the five year old who captured the hearts of millions.

By 2005, he turned from a child star to a young adult actor.

In 2006, Osment faced a tumultuous year marked by a highly publicized drunk driving incident that led to his arrest. Mug shots from this time showed him looking like a young man, a stark contrast to his polished public image in earlier years.

Osment suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured rib and a hurt shoulder, as a result of the incident. He was charged with driving under the influence and underage drinking.

At 18, he moved to New York to study experimental theatre at New York University and attend college, something both he and his parents wanted.

“I did work that practically nobody saw for a long time, which was not a great career move – but, ultimately, was important for me to figure out whether this was what I truly wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Osment once told The Guardian.

In 2008, Osment made his Broadway debut, marking a significant milestone in his career. He sported a more mature look, with the beginnings of facial hair.

Taking part in American Buffalo, he explored more complex themes. “That was definitely a very fun period of playing a lot of bad guys,” Osment admitted in a 2020 interview. By 2014, Osment had immersed himself in character-driven roles that showcased his dramatic abilities. His performance in Sex Ed highlighted his adept comic timing as well. The actor looked quite different than before and his fans commented on his weight gain.

“Just noticed Haley Joel Osment in the ending credits of ‘What We Do in the Shadows.’ I’m like who? When? Had to google it omg completely unrecognizable,” wrote one person. Another said, “Can we talk about how Haley Joel Osment is almost unrecognizable in this?” A third commented, “Does this man make you wonder why Haley Joel Osment gained so much weight? Almost unrecognizable. Such an incredible actor and now no parts for Haley.”

Referring to the comments regarding his looks, the actor wrote on social media, “I would say it’s fine that it’s unrecognizable. It’s good. […] there’s those sort of roles that give you the opportunity to undergo a transformation like that are really really kind of fun.”

Osment starred in the acclaimed series Silicon Valley, which aired for six seasons from 2014 to 2019 and earned two Primetime Emmy Awards. This role marked a departure from Osment’s earlier work. During this period, Osment had a full-grown beard. The star revealed that he grew a beard “to try to hide in public. That didn’t really work at all,” as per The Guardian.

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After living in New York for 13 years, Osment returned to Los Angeles on 2020. In 2023, his acting career thrived.

Osment continues to receive recognition for his transformation and dedication to his craft.

Nice to see a child actor turned out normal,” commented one user. Another wrote, “This guy is still absolutely adorable. He has such a tremendous presence and seems to really have fun with what he does and not take it too seriously.”

“He’s so cute he seems like he would be good at hugging,” one individual wrote. Someone else added, “He looks like a huge cuddly teddy bear!!! I just wanna give him a BIG hug!!!!”

“It’s pretty apparent that he grew up to be a very intelligent actor. I see him as the next Phillip Seymour Hoffman,” one social media user stated.

Osment has diversified his slate significantly in recent years, appearing in projects as diverse as Teachers, The Devil Has a Name, and The Kominsky Method, among others.

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