JACKIE EARLE HALEY (Walter Kovacs/Rorschach) has the rare distinction of being a successful child actor who, after virtually disappearing from Hollywood for 15 years, made an almost unprecedented comeback in back-to-back feature films: Steven Zaillian’s “All the King’s Men” and Todd Field’s controversial drama “Little Children.” Haley’s courageous performance in the latter brought him numerous accolades, including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was also honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination and won Best Supporting Actor awards from several critics groups, including the New York Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
He more recently appeared in the Will Ferrell basketball comedy “Semi-Pro.” This fall, Haley will be seen in the thriller “Shutter Island,” in which he co-stars with Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley under the direction of Martin Scorsese.
Haley first came to fame in the mid-1970s with his scene-stealing performance as Kelly Leak, the cigarette-smoking, motorcycle-riding hellion, in Michael Ritchie’s comedy hit “The Bad News Bears,” reprising his role in two sequels. Haley again won praise from critics and audiences for his role as the romantic but short-tempered Moocher in Peter Yates’ Oscar®-winning 1979 sleeper hit “Breaking Away.” In 1983, Haley played the sex-obsessed Dave in Curtis Hanson’s “Losin’ It,” with Tom Cruise. That same year, he made his Broadway debut, starring in John Byrne’s play “Slab Boys,” with Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Val Kilmer.
Despite his early prominence, however, Haley found it difficult to successfully transition to more adult roles and turned his focus to directing. After years of struggling to make ends meet, he began directing industrial videos, which eventually led to commercial directing.
He had been off the screen for more than a decade when, in October of 2004, Steven Zaillian tracked Haley down—on his honeymoon in France—and asked him to audition for the role of Sugar Boy in “All the King’s Men.” Haley sent in a tape and won the part. Following that film, he landed the role of Ronnie McGorvey in Todd Field’s “Little Children,” resulting in his first Oscar® nomination and what has been the resurgence of his acting career.
Today, Haley divides his time between acting and directing.