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Second Hand Lions and Teen Life

Action-Adventure Movies
with Fred Topel

August 26, 2003


Secondhand Lions and Teen Life Remember when Haley Joel Osment was that cute kid from The Sixth Sense and A.I.? Well, get ready for teenage Haley. In Secondhand Lions, his first post-puberty film, Osment plays a teenager sent to live with his uncles for the summer.

The eccentric old men (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine, interviews coming soon), have some pretty crazy schemes, and even crazier stories about their past. Through these tales and adventures, the boy becomes a man.

Is it hard going from that cute kid image to adolescent roles?

The transition itself isn't so difficult but finding the right path through this period is probably the hardest part. It's just the choice is the most important thing because I'm going to be an adult actor pretty soon, so I've got to be choosing the right roles now so that by the time I get to that age, there will be wide options available. I've got to keep my roles diverse.

How do you determine the right role?

The story has got to be great, as this story was, and the script has really got to come alive and also, the character has to be right. The character has to be the right age, has to be original for me as well as an original character in itself. So the criteria is all from the story.

You and the character Walter are both at the awkward age?

Yeah, it ended up symbolizing that, so it didn't end up being a problem. The voice was something that we worked on and just the whole physicality is really what we worked on primarily. The thing we worked on the most was how he would look before he met the uncles. Because the rest of that film was going to be reactionary towards what the uncles taught him. He has to react to these two old men. It's sort of not so much in his hands anymore once he goes to the uncles because they're changing him. And the only control you would have over Walter is who he was before he walked on stage I guess. We'd have to begin with a character and he would change as the film went on.

What does the title mean to you?

It represents all the characters on that farm. The farm is a place where you have a herd of mutt dogs and you have a lion that's been cast off from the zoo. You have a pig that barely escaped going to the bacon factory and you have this kid who's this pathetic castoff with no convictions and no desires and everything. He's just sort of this weak person, and these two old men who feel like they have outlived their time. It's all these people who separately have sort of fallen out of who they should be, and together these three main characters, they teach each other that they still matter. Walter lets these two old men know that they still have something to live for and they in turn teach him how to be a man. They teach him how to count as a person and how to live life the right way.

Do you have strange relatives?

Yeah, I mean, there was a lot of places from which I could draw research for what he goes through in this film, and everybody has their eccentric relatives that you spend the summer with sometimes and I have a fairly large family, so just that feeling I think I could draw on for this film. And then on the role model part, of course I have my parents who you’re supposed to look up to. That’s the sad part about Walter is that he doesn’t have that first step. He doesn’t have role models that he can aspire to until he goes to meet the uncles. So, I guess it was working backwards from my knowledge of knowing what it’s like to have a solid role model and then reversing that to be Walter at the beginning of the story.

Were you nervous about working with a real lion?

Everybody was really nervous about the lion going crazy and the lion attacking people, and they had big spiked fences around during the shooting and guys with dart guns ready to take the lion out should it attack anybody, and it never gave us any problems. It was more well behaved than the pig. There were three lions. And so they did some lion makeup to make them look similar, and they worked very effectively together. They were each trained to do a separate thing. One followed commands, one hit their marks. It was pretty amazing.

Has your view on acting changed since you started?

Every time I do a project, you learn new things and I think you appreciate acting more every time. I just really have understood more about the details behind it. While working with Michael and Robert, I really understood the intricacies behind what they were doing I guess a little bit more than had I done it a couple years ago. And that’s a credit to the films I’ve done before because I learned how to observe in the films before and now I’m absorbing information whenever I can. And on top of the acting part, the technical part of filmmaking, I really watched carefully this time. Jack Green, the cinematographer, allowed me to really watch how they were shooting this movie and I just really got really involved in watching how they were executing the film which has always been really interesting to me.

Do your friends treat you differently because you’re an actor?

I think they got it from the start. All I had to do was be myself and it was up to them to get what it was all about and they did. They understood that it wasn’t about the acting so much, it was just about how we related at school and everything. Acting is not a factor on campus. It’s not something that I’m doing there. It’s not a part of my life there, so they just treat me like the person I am.

Do you watch normal teen movies like Jackdonkey or Rob Schneider?

Luckily, a lot of my friends, we’re big into films and a wide range of films. A lot of my really close friends have really good film tastes. We’ve been watching all the classics and really good quality films. I saw a lot of independent films last year. We hit the Laemmle [art house theater] as much as possible seeing the documentaries and everything. Luckily, I met a lot of kids who have really advanced tastes in filmmaking. I went to go see Together with a really good friend of mine a couple weeks ago. We’re trying to see it all, I guess, so yeah. Even though it’s obvious that some of those cheaper entertainment films get a lot of audiences, I guess, simply because it’s easy to be entertained by that. And being 15, you can be entertained by something like that.

Are you?

I did not see Jackdonkey. It’s harder for me because it’s just obvious how cheap that humor can be and how it’s making it harder for good films to be successful. It’s harder for important and deep films to get recognition because they’re sort of being crowded out by cheap [ones].

Are you worried about competition for Secondhand Lions?

It doesn’t worry me. I’m confident with the quality of the film. And back to those other films, I don’t have a problem seeing those films. I just regret that they’re taking attention away from other films. It’s an unfair environment out there because we’re exploiting teenage thrills and everything too much I guess. I don't think we’re following up as well as the generation before us with the films that we enjoy. I think the ‘70s probably has beat us out so far with the type of films that the kids back then were enjoying hopefully. But I think there is hope though. I think there is a group of people out there. If the right films are out there, I think we will find that the hope is not lost.

Are you taking another break now?

Until another script comes along, yeah. That’s what happened with Secondhand Lions. We waited for the right script to be available and this had perfect timing.



These articles are gathered here from all over as a resource for serious fans and theatre students interested in Secondhand Lions and the filmography of Haley Joel Osment , Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and director Tim McCanlies. All articles have been credited to the original authors and have been linked back to the original website in which the articles were published. The webmaster of this site does NOT benefit or profit in any way from hosting these articles, and if we have inadvertantly breached any copyright, we apologise in advance and will remove the article as soon as we are informed of the copyright breach. We do ask for your understanding as this is purely a fansite built for the benefit for other fans and serious film students. Thank you.

The webmaster


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Haley Joel Grows Up
Secondhand Lions Production Notes
Second Hand Lions and Teen Life
Everything changes for Sixth Sense Star
Boy Meets World : Can Haley Joel Osment survive the child actor syndrome ?
Duvall, Caine take pride in their new film
Michael Caine on Secondhand Lions
Secondtime Director
Haley Joel Osment on Secondhand Lions
Interview : Haley Joel Osment
Interview : Haley Joel Osment of "Secondhand Lions"
Haley Joel Osment : Growth Spurt
Haley's Comments
Is Haley the next teen idol ?
Osment grows into his roles
Haley Joel Osment grows up
Review : Actors put roar in Secondhand Lions
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What A Boy Needs
McCanlies, Texas: Pop. 1
Secondhand Lions : The Austin Chronicle Review
Actor Osment sees Yale People
Top Actors Discuss The Importance Of Family
Haley Joel Osment is growing up onscreen
Iron Lion : An interview with Tim McCanlies
The Kid Stays in Pictures
Young Lion : At 15 , Haley Joel Osment holds his own
Secondhand Lions : capsule reviews in UK media
60 Second Interview with Haley Joel Osment
Digital Kitchen Delivers 'Secondhand Lions' Titles
Review : 'Secondhand Lions' Roars
SECONDHAND LIONS’ long decade’s journey to the screen
Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
Secondhand Lions movie review
The Kid Grows Up
Haley Joel Osment of Secondhand Lions
Tim McCanlies of Secondhand Lions : an interview
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An Interview with Tim McCanlies
Secondhand Lions Second
Secondhand Lions Set for Broadway Bow
Now Presenting Secondhand Lions: The Musical
For the Third of Secondhand Lions
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