Jackie Earle Haley can call it a comeback if he wants to.
Whatever else he does in life, Jackie Earle Haley will always be remembered as Kelly Leak, the baddest of the bad boys in the badass 1976 little league classic The Bad News Bears. There was a time when it looked like that was all he'd be remembered for. After sinking to less revered shit like Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, Haley disappeared from films in 1993 and worked as a commercial director, limousine driver, furniture re-finisher, security officer, and pizza deliveryman before stumbling into a comeback playing a pedophile in 2006's Little Children.
Later this year, he'll be filling Freddie Krueger's glove in the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. This week, though, you can check him in Fox's new comic adaptation, Human Target, and in Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island. A lot of child stars should just go away, but Haley is one we're glad to have back, so Complex is taking a look back at the man's memorable work...
THE BAD NEWS BEARS, 1976
ROLE: Kelly Leak
• Fuck Babe Ruth. The #3 star ballplayer we idolized growing up was Haley's athletically gifted, cigarette-smoking, loan-sharking, Harley-riding shit-starter who helps turn things around for the woeful Bears. This role, which he also played in the sequels The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan, is the reason we started puffing stogeys and wearing bell bottoms.
LITTLE CHILDREN, 2006
ROLE: Ronnie J. McGorvey
• His teen heartthrob good looks gone, Haley made a dramatic comeback playing a sex offender who's released and harassed after serving time for exposing himself to a little girl. It takes skill to make a predator both sympathetic and scary, and Haley did just that. Every scene he's in puts you on edge and makes your skin crawl, just like this one, where he tries to cool out at the public pool.
• Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell's comedy about a one-hit wonder singer trying to keep the ABA basketball team he bought from dissolution during the merger with the NBA, may not be his highest scoring film, but Haley, who makes a cameo as a hippie stoner, ranks super high and shows he can still get laughs (we were still a little freaked out by his pedophile performance). If you think about it, his 3/4-court shot for $10,000 is technically a free throw, 'cause it cost him nothing. Think about that, bro...if your mind isn't already blown.
ROLE: Walter Kovacs/Rorschach
• Haley returned to the dark side, playing the powerless vigilante with serious mommy issues in Zack Snyder's big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore's classic graphic novel. There was no chance that the movie was going to please all the fanboys, and many did indeed hate, but nobody could front on Haley killing it as Rorschach, often quite literally.
HUMAN TARGET, 2010
• Haley plays a hired gun on Fox's adaptation of the DC Comics book, which follows a security expert who works his way into the lives of his clients to put the bullseye on his own head. Already, Haley and the rest of the crew have gotten praise for making the TV show seem like a big budget thrill ride. Check it out. Maniac Cop 3 it ain't.