Good news for ex-child star Haley


"Jubilation. Pure unbelievable joy. This is a day of all days," said Jackie Earle Haley, best supporting actor nominee for "Little Children." The actor, who lives in San Antonio with his wife, said he was an emotional daze after getting a nom for his first work in 13 years; his previous movie was "Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence."

Haley was the child star of 1976's "The Bad News Bears" and appeared in 1979's "Breaking Away" and 1983's "Losin' It," but he found the transition to adult roles difficult. He spent the past several years working in Alamo City as a limo driver, security guard and pizza deliverer. Haley was lured back by director and screenwriter Steve Zaillian for "All the King's Men," which is where he first worked with fellow "Children" nominee Kate Winslet.

"I knew him from 'All the King's Men,' and when ('Children' writer-director) Todd (Field) said, 'What do you think of Jackie Earle Haley for Ronnie?, I said, 'Oh my God, fly him in, '" Winslet recalled. "We read together; he gave the most breathtaking audition I've ever seen in my life. And Todd gave him the job on the spot.

"I'm so thrilled for him. I can't imagine what planet he must think he's on."

Haley, who described Winslet "like a big sister," talked to the actress in the morning but could hardly get a word in edgewise. "She was screaming and was so giddy," he said. "I kept trying to say congratulations, but she was more concerned and happy that my name showed up on that list."

Haley was awakened at 7:30 a.m. by his wife, who had just watched the announcement. "She came running in the room, just crying and screaming, 'You got it, you got it!' Dude, I sat up and was consumed with emotion. We hugged each other for five minutes just crying."

Haley said he is reading scripts and mulling offers for his next role, though he has yet to make a decision.

Among the many emotions he felt was "this wonderful sense of validation. It makes me want to give every Academy member a big hug ... I'm just going to walk around high as a kite, on cloud nine. No matter what, it's going to be a good day."

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