2 weeks ago I saw The Sixth Sense with me mom. I didn’t expect much. I had already started paying too much attention to the camera work as a result of boredom, I had already heard about the M. man’s subsequent fall from glory, and I had already read the entire plot on Wikipedia! Knew about the twist, knew about the dead guys, knew about poor little Brucy, the whole shebang. So this was simply something to please me mom over her favorite movie. Easy doing. Then it came to Haley Joel Osment.
Wow. Just wow. Amazing.
Today, Osment is no longer 11 but a sprightly 21. What amazes me more than is acting, however, was that despite the popularity of this movie, we never heard from him again. One the other hand, Christian Bale, who started acting at around the same age, no one can say he’s out of a job! But then again, who here remembers Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun? Anybody? A raise of hands? Anyone?
They often say that we age the wrong way, we should go backwards from being born old until we turn into children like a certain Forrest Gump rip-off last December. Childhood was easy, no worries, we want go back there. Not for child actors, it seems. Why is it so hard for them to be cemented into the movie industry when 3 successful movies is plenty for a 20 year old to get established, but a child actor rarely exceeds 2?
These day, the typical career for a child actor is this:.
1. You start playing as some big star’s kid, who has to inhale the side effects of all his wacky, R-rated adventures. Option B is that you debut as some demon child who tries to destroy the world. In both cases, you won’t be to watch your own debut until you turn 18.
2. If that works out, then you upgrade to the tier of “younger version of character in a flashback.” There you just play people who look nothing like you when you get older aside from hair color. Half the time, it’s a wig.
3. Puberty hits and now you are filled with tons of angst from both not being treated like a normal person and not being treated like a normal actor. But now you are ready to enter the realm of PG-13, which in studio talk means MOOLAH! So you just go all out RAUNCHY and then you got yourself a career at last!
4. Now once you hit 24, now you’re in real trouble because you can’t pass yourself off as a high schooler anymore. Your only hope now is that even though all the movies you were in before weren’t all that great, you pushed yourself to the absolute hardest in all the tiny parts you were allowed, and hopefully some great director saw you in all of that and decides to put you in something where you can REALLY show the world. Then you’re a star, after a terrible ordealing childhood where you got never treated as normal kid at home and you never got treated as a normal actor at work.
What about the OTHER way in, where your debut role is a really awesome movie aimed for your own age group that gets really popular? Unless you’re over 17, you’ll become associated with that part forever, and never be able to get in some other movie again until you’re 20. Don’t believe me? Then read on the tragic stories of Macaulay Culkin and Daryl Sabara. Who ever heard of them again?
Even those that do get successfully integrated into the mass markets are often underestimated of their full talent and given parts that force them to under perform. Consider Miss AnnaSophia Robb, who I am considering going to with a job offer in a few years. (Guess which part, Metroid fans?) Excellent actress, but terribly underutilized. In some ways, she started off luckier than most, being able to actually star early on in movies aimed at her own age group, such as Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, Because of Winn-Dixie, and Bridge to Terabithia. But I pity the director who looked at her acting skills there and thought, “Wow, she will make an excellent world-destroying demon-child!” Then there came The Reaping and Jumper and she got shunted sideways into the tier of “Demon kids and Baby Juniors”, while her evil twin sister Dakota Fanning got in all the critically-acclaimed movies.
There’s still a bit of hope for her. She’s still 15, hasn’t gotten involved in any movie that would tarnish her image, minus The Reaping, which flopped at the box-office, and possibly the upcoming Have Dreams, Will Travel, which IMDB tells me has her developing quite the potty mouth. Too bad. If this film ends up being a huger success, I fear what may come later in her coming career.
No, I don’t want her to stay a kid forever. See, the secret to “surviving” a child acting career is grow up. the main reason why such charming kids like Haley Osment, Jake Lloyd, and Alexa Vega never went anywhere is because they got so associated with their signature role that they could never get anywhere new. Is this fate to befall Daniel Radcliffe and co.? And what about the High School Musical fellows? And anybody seen The Little Rascals anywhere around? I hope I count as a little bit of hope for Miss AnnaSophia, as I definitely see talent in her and she’ll be an excellent fit for the part of Miss Aran, not as a drag queen, or an action chick, as most people would expect, but rather as a heroine worthy of succeeding in the legacy of the original queen of sci-fi herself, Ellen Ripley.
Miss Robb? If my prayers are answered and you do happen to read this, then check out this link: http://metroid.wikia.com/wiki/Samus_Aran And ignore Google search pics, I’m a guy with morals.
Perfect, absolutely perfect.
So now back to the question: why do we mistreat our future stars so much? The reason? It all goes back to the 60’s. Thanks to the sexual revolution, we began having a lot more babies to add on the boom of the 50s, only back in the 50s we actually liked having lots of kids. But thanks to the massive change in attitude, kids started getting viewed “that side-effect.” What a doo-doo.
And another thing that gets me, of all the trash that we make child actors go through, when was the last time we ever made a film for them? It always make me sad about how they get signed up into acting in a ton of movies that they’ll be too young to watch for years, and yet look what we ask them to do! Like Isabelle Fuhrman in this summer’s “Orphan.”
In it, she, a 9 year old, murders, bludgeons, sets fire to, puts revolvers to the head of, and even attempts to rape her newfound family.
The kids in question might not be aware of it. Isabelle herself seems perfectly content in interviews promoting the movie and probably defends her character a bit too much. No, not a bit too much, TOO MUCH! Orphan has made $$51,087,787. But will we ever see her again?
It’s a DANGEROUS world out there, kid.
Do I get my allowance before I leave?
So what does this mean for me? For my adaptation of Metroid, I’ll have to use child actors. The movie will probably be PG-13. I’ll have to use 6 year olds, 14 years olds, and everyone else in between. But there’s a great deal of difference between a Revenge of the Sith PG-13 and a Beowulf PG-13. And we can all agree it’s not the rating that makes a movie. It’s the story and acting. And that’s what these fellows, both young and old, that’s what they shall help me with.
One day there may be some new kids added to the population of this earth, and they’ll be wanting to watch the next movie by Daddy. And he’ll be pleased to show them.
1. The Bug on Peter Jackson’s Shoe=X
2. The Stork Brings Idea’s Too?=X
3. The Gruel of Writing=X
4. But It’s Real Life!=X
5. AnnaSophia and Me=X
6. *Maybe* It’s Bad.
7. I Have Seen the Future and It’s Just Like Now.
8. How Faithful must An Adaptation Be?
9. I’ve Got Something New Here!
10. I Fell In Love!(Again!)
11. Why *WOULD* I Want To See My Own Movie?
12. Studio Executives Are Your Friends
14. Batteries Not Included.
15. Scathing Tell-All-Autobiography
16. For a Clownfish, He’s Not Really That Funny
17. Revisionist History
18. Actors: Someone You Hire Because You Can’t Do It Yourself
19. I’m In 3-D!
20. Beethoven’s 33rd Symphony.
21. He’s So Hot.
22. Movie Critics Are Your Friends
23. Warning: Not a Role Model
24. MPAA Does not PAAss
25. Remember, Grandma is Watching
26. Blue Screen Blues
27. I Wasn’t Invited to the Oscars(But I Still Love Myself)
28. The Dreadful Flying Dove!
29. Take My Hand, Harry!
30. Racism and Cinema: Then And Now
32. O-BLUE-TERATE THEM!!!!
33. I Loved You. I HATE YOU!!!!
34. If I Were a Rich Man
35. Kodak Won’t Help you Here
36. Monkey See, Monkey Do
37. What’s With the Envelope?
38. Reach For the Stars!!!
39. Duhn Duhn Duhn DUHNNNNN!!!!
40. You Gotta Have HEART!!!!!
41. Who Ever Heard of a Good Third Movie?
42. Remake: THE SEQUEL!!!
43. Awesome, Awesome.
44. How to Write an Oscar-Winning Character on a Limited Budget.
45. Human Hair… From my Back
46. I Don’t Wanna Gain Da Whole World and Lose ma Soul!!
47. Am I a Genius?
50. Ghost Riters