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He's The Child Who Chills

The Sixth Sense is a surprise No. 1 hit at the box office this summer, and not just because of the star power of Bruce Willis. Many of the chills in this thriller are provided by the performance of 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment.

Haley spoke with CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell about his hair-raising role.

In The Sixth Sense, Haley plays the pivotal character, Cole Sear, an 8-year-old who is visited by ghosts and who is too terrified and too young to understand his paranormal powers.

In general, to prepare for his roles, the young actor tries to find things in his real life that relate to the character in some way.

"This was hard, because Cole has such an intense life," Haley explains. "In my life, I don't have that much fear every day."

In one scene, Cole was supposed to look shaken up after an encounter with a ghost. So Haley ran into a stage wall a couple of times to get ready for the shoot. (He didn't hurt himself; stage walls are pretty flimsy.)

While what you see on the big screen is undeniably frightening, Haley says one of his challenges was to make himself feel scared on the set.

"You have 100 people following you around with a camera right behind you when you're doing a scene where you're supposed to be alone with a ghost," he says.

Also, the extras who played the ghosts, inflicted with gory wounds (courtesy of the makeup crew), wandered around between takes, snacking on coffee and doughnuts.

Yet Haley, who will start sixth grade after Labor Day, isn't sure if every other child his age should see The Sixth Sense.

"The only reason I'm seeing it is because I'm in it. I know how it all works," he adds.

Previously, his biggest movie role was playing Tom Hanks' son in Forrest Gump (1994), but he also appeared in Mixed Nuts (1994) and Bogus (1996). He also provided the voice of Chip in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997), the direct-to-video sequel to the Disney theatrical hit.

On television, he was a regular on The Jeff Foxworthy Show and also appeared in such other programs as Murphy Brown and Ally McBeal.

As for the future, Haley is setting his sights on the theater.

"My dad has been a theater actor for a very long time," he explains. "I would like to try it out, because I like to be in front of a live audience."

[To visit the official Web site for The Sixth Sense, click here.]

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