12:43pm PT by Patrick Shanley
Haley Joel Osment Would Be Happy to Star in 'Kingdom Hearts' Games "Forever"
For nearly 20 years, Haley Joel Osment has been leading one of the world's most profitable franchises, but many may not have noticed.
Osment first took on the role of the optimistic, Keyblade-wielding hero Sora in the Kingdom Hearts franchise — which mashes up classic Disney and Pixar characters and settings with role-playing and action elements developed by Final Fantasy creators Square Enix — when he was 12 years old. Eighteen years later, the third main installment in the long-running series has arrived for fans eager to continue the adventures of Sora, Goofy and Donald.
"It's by far the longest relationship I’ve had with any character," Osment tells Heat Vision. The actor says that the "vastness of the story" is what keeps him coming back to the role and notes that, among fans, it's one that he fields the most questions for. "I was doing a Q&A in Philadelphia and almost all the questions were about when the next Kingdom Hearts was coming out — and that was seven years ago," he says.
Kingdom Hearts 3 made a big splash in Japan during its first week of sales, selling over 600,000 units, nearly tripling sales of Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake in the country (North American and global sales totals were not available at the time of this report). Meanwhile, the game has received almost unanimous critical praise and is already another hit in the series, coming 14 years after the last main entry in the franchise, 2005's Kingdom Hearts 2. In total, the series has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
"You have some of the best creative minds in gameplay and storytelling," Osment says of the franchise's lasting popularity. "The variety of worlds and how complex the gameplay is is how [the developers] have kept up with the international arms race that is video games now."
Osment, who also has a busy career in film and television with roles in the Zac Efron-led Ted Bundy film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile and TV shows like Hulu's Future Man and Amazon Prime's Teachers, has voiced Sora in 10 separate Kingdom Hearts titles. With that many different entries, the story can get quite complex, even for the actors.
"I remember when I was doing Kingdom Hearts 2, we had this poster board with arrows and all the plot points to help keep it straight," Osment recalls. Still, he says he managed to process it all — with a little help. "The directors and producers that are in the studio with me are good about knowing where we are," he says.
It can be particularly hard to juggle such a complex story when recording his lines abroad or while working on other projects, Osment concedes. "It took a good part of last year to do all of our recording sessions. I was doing them in Toronto, New York City and while in South Africa. It's hard to find times that work for all timezones between where I’m at and Tokyo [where Square Enix is headquartered]," he says.
But even after more than a decade and a half and multiple spinoffs and main games, Osment is still eager to continue working on the Kingdom Hearts series and portraying Sora. "I’d be happy playing this character forever," he says.