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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- February 19, 2007
- Vol. 67
- No. 7
From Bad News Bears to Oscar
Jackie Earle Haley Was a Child Star Whose Career Vanished with Adulthood. Cut To: a Comeback—and An Oscar Nomination
Eight years ago Haley—a Southern California native who landed his first acting gig at age 5—quit Hollywood for San Antonio, where he started producing and directing corporate videos and commercials. "It was time to move on," says Haley, who shares a three-bedroom Texas ranch house with wife Amelia, 46, and son Chris, 20. "I put the acting on a shelf." But in 2004, Haley got a call from director Steven Zaillian, who remembered Haley from his '70s movies and cast him as Sean Penn's bodyguard in All the King's Men. "It was like the sky opened up," says Haley. "And Steve Zaillian reached down and said, 'Hey man, you want another shot?'"
That break led to the part of a tormented sex offender in Little Children. "Jackie captured the scariness of the character," says co-screenwriter Tom Perrotta, who wrote the book the movie is based on. "But you feel his anguish." Pal Kate Winslet, who knew Haley from Men, put in a word on his behalf. But, says director Todd Field, "Jackie cast himself."
The performance won critics' raves—and an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. "When my wife told me, we just held each other and cried," says Haley. Still, he's keeping his day job. "I've had a little experience in disappointment," says Haley. But, he adds, "I'm going to walk out of that Kodak Theatre a winner—no matter what happens."
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