It was 20 years ago, on Aug. 6, 1999, that a young Haley Joel Osment told Bruce Willis, “I see dead people,” in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
The Southern California native was discovered in the playroom of an IKEA, and a Pizza Hut commercial opened his world to roles in Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense and The Jeff Foxworthy Show, among others.
“He’s the most talented child actor I’ve ever seen,” Willis told PEOPLE in ’99 as the film took off and Osment, older brother of Hannah Montana actress Emily, earned an Oscar nomination
In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Osment — here in 2002 — said his childhood was (almost) as normal as could be.
“My parents made a tremendous effort to have a home life, education, and community that preserved the privacy and freedom kids need,” he wrote. “I went to a regular elementary school, high school, and went to university with only two work-related interruptions in those last four years.”
By 2004, Osment had grown four inches and aged out of his babyface stage. “I look so different,” he told PEOPLE the year prior. “It’s a sort of relief to not have people notice me so much.”
The year 2006 brought the actor’s sole personal controversy: a car crash that was followed by DUI charges, to which he pled no contest.
Osment, 18, was sentenced to 60 hours of alcohol rehab and education. He was also ordered to attend six months of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with a minimum of 26 meetings, and placed him on three years probation. Osment was ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and penalties, according to a statement from Jane Robinson, a spokeswoman for the D.A.
The charges stemmed from a July 20 incident in which the actor crashed his car and was found to have a blood-alcohol content that was double the legal limit (at 0.16). Osment lost control of his 1995 Saturn at around 1 a.m., hit a mailbox on a brick base and flipped over. In the accident, Osment broke a rib and hurt his shoulder.
Two years later, Osment, then a student at New York University, spoke to PEOPLE about the incident.
“It was an example of someone just out of high school being extremely irresponsible,” he said. “There’s no excuse for that.”
After the incident, he decided to swear off drinking until his 21st birthday. “I learned my lesson. I made a bad decision, and it’s something you can’t run from.”
Though he grew up in L.A., Osment made the move to N.Y.C. for college and decided to stick around.
“I’ve really become attached to how life works here,” he told PEOPLE.
He didn’t even mind being recognized for his famous childhood roles.
“I’m comfortable with it,” he said, smiling. “This being the city this is, people aren’t really impressed no matter what you do.”
By 2012 the actor stepped back into the spotlight, attending Outfest’s opening night gala screening of VITO that year.
And by 2014 he was racking up TV credits, including The Spoils of Babylon, Next Time on Lonny and Alpha House.
Perhaps peak Hollywood for Osment: the former child star scored a rowdy role in the 2015 movie version of the hit series Entourage.
In 2016, he joined famous daughters Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith in director Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers, sporting quite the look.
In 2018, the actor hit the red carpet at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in L.A.
Most recently, he joined Zac Efron in the Ted Bundy piece Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, calling the film “fascinating” in a chat with PEOPLE Now.