Jackie Earle Haley has had one of the most interesting career trajectories in the industry. He started out as a successful child actor before virtually disappearing from Hollywood.
After 15 years, he made an almost unprecedented comeback in back-to-back 2006 feature releases: Steven Zaillian‘s All the King’s Men and Todd Field‘s controversial drama Little Children. Haley’s courageous performance as convicted sex offender Ronnie McGorvey in the latter brought him numerous accolades, culminating in an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was also honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination and won Best Supporting Actor awards from several critics groups, including the New York Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
Haley then appeared in the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro. In 2009, he joined the ensemble cast of Watchmen, Zack Snyder‘s ambitious film adaptation of the seminal graphic novel, earning acclaim from critics and fans alike for his portrayal of the enigmatic Rorschach.
The following year, Haley co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in the dramatic thriller Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese. Also in 2010, Haley took on the role of the monstrously terrifying killer Freddy Krueger in the reimagining of the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. On television, Haley starred for two seasons on FOX’s action series Human Target.
Haley first came to fame in the mid-1970s with his scene-stealing performance as Kelly Leak, the cigarette-smoking, motorcycle-riding hellion, in Michael Ritchie‘s comedy hit The Bad News Bears, reprising his role in two sequels. He again won praise from critics and audiences for his role as the romantic but short-tempered Moocher in Peter Yates‘ Oscar®-winning 1979 sleeper hit Breaking Away. In 1983, Haley played the sex-obsessed Dave in Curtis Hanson‘s Losin’ It, with Tom Cruise. That same year, he made his Broadway debut, starring in John Byrne‘s play Slab Boys, with Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Val Kilmer.
When the transition to more adult roles proved difficult, Haley turned his focus to directing. He began helming industrial videos, which eventually led to commercials. He had been off the screen for more than a decade when, in 2004, Steven Zaillian tracked him down for the role of Sugar Boy in All the King’s Men. That, combined with his work in Little Children, resulted in the resurgence of his acting career.
Later this year, Haley portrays Alexander Stephens in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Lincoln, opening in December 2012.
This Biography/Filmography of Jackie Earle Haley is courtesy of Warner Brothers