If you're someone who grew up in the 1970s and early '80s, then you definitely know who Jackie Earle Haley is. If only for his performance as Kelly Leak in the Bad News Bears trilogy (and his great turn as Moocher in Peter Yates'Breaking Away), Jack Haley made for a memorable little character actor. After co-starring with a then-unknown actor named Tom Cruise in 1983's Losin' It (which was directed by none other than Curtis Hanson), Haley kind of fell off the Hollywood radar -- in a big way. Aside from a few quick moments in Murder, She Wrote and MacGyver episodes, Jackie Earle Haley could be seen in titles like Dollman, Nemesis and Maniac Cop 3. And unfortunately he didn't work often enough to gain much of a Campbell-type cult following.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when I sat down to watch All the King's Men and noticed that -- hey, isn't that Jackie Earle Haley playing Sean Penn's ultra-tough bodyguard dude?!? How cool to see him back in a movie again! Granted, he didn't have many lines, but it was still great to see an old pal after so many years. And then I headed off to see a dark comedy / suburban drama called Little Children ... and there was Jackie again, this time with a much meatier role: He plays a convicted sex offender who moves into a cushy suburban neighborhood that most definitely doesn't want him around. And the guy gives a great performance in a really difficult role.

So who knows what's next for Mr. Haley? This New York Times article does a fine job of summing up the guy's comeback, and I think that both of the directors involved (Steven Zaillian and Todd Field) deserve a hearty round of praise for pulling Jackie Earle out of obscurity and giving him another shot in the spotlight. Based on the two performances I just witnessed, I suspect Haley will be popping up a lot more frequently in the near future.
categories Cinematical