Tyke Now Teen

updated 09/29/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

He's four inches taller. His feet are up two sizes. But the biggest surprise is Haley Joel Osment's voice. It's deep. At least an octave deeper than it was when he famously whimpered, "I see dead people" in 1999's smash thriller The Sixth Sense. And Osment, now 15, couldn't be happier. "I look so different," he says. "It's a sort of relief to not have people notice me so much."

Spoken like any self-conscious teenager—but on the job, Osment, who starred in Steven Spielberg's A.I. in 2001, is wise beyond his years. "He's so bright and insightful," says Tim McCanlies, who directed Osment's coming-of-age turn as an adolescent sent to live with his crotchety great-uncles (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall) in the new family film Secondhand Lions. "You start talking to him as one of your peers, and then suddenly you realize, 'My God, he doesn't have his driver's license yet! He's going to be like Jodie Foster. He'll probably go to Yale or Harvard.' "

For now, the 10th grader is busy getting in shape for cross-country track ("I've been running between five and eight miles a day. In the beginning you just die"), playing guitar and doing chores at home in L.A. with parents Eugene, 44, an actor, Theresa, 43, a schoolteacher, and sister Emily, 11, a budding actress (Spy Kids 3D). But sometimes, Osment admits, his worlds do collide. Instead of writing a report for school on the military, Osment and a friend shot a video of playing war in the park. "We're always trying to cram as much film as we can into school," he says. "It's good practice."

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