Shyamalan: 'It's Been a Good Year' With Six Oscar NominationsAired February 15, 2000 - 2:20 p.m. ET
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LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: "The Sixth Sense" perhaps a bit of a surprise for those of us without one. A $278 million box office hit now with six Academy Award nominations, including best supporting actor nomination for the 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment. A pair of nominations for M. Night Shyamalan: best director, best original screenplay.
Night joins us now from Philadelphia, where I understand you're hard at work on a next movie?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN, DIRECTOR, "THE SIXTH SENSE": Yes, that's right. How are you doing?
WATERS: What kind of a day are you having?
SHYAMALAN: Crazy day, man.
WATERS: How did you get the word?
SHYAMALAN: We were watching it. We had my family and friends come over, and we watched the announcements. It was just one scream after the other.
WATERS: Well, congratulations. Is this something -- this is probably a dumb question. Is this a big deal? I mean, do you chew your nails over this kind of a thing?
SHYAMALAN: You know, I didn't -- I didn't because the movie had kind of, you know, succeeded on so many different levels outside of the awards arena, you know, its appreciation with its audience and its connection with its audience, and so there was a certain satisfaction already there. But just one minute before the event came on the air, I suddenly got this pang of, I really want this, I really want this for the movie, and I -- you know, I'm going to feel terrible if this doesn't happen. And it all came through.
WATERS: I understand that you've been making movies since you were eight years old and your hero is Steven Spielberg, correct?
SHYAMALAN: Yes, well, it's 10 years old and Steven Spielberg. Yes. Definitely.
WATERS: OK, well, why Spielberg? SHYAMALAN: Well, I think, you know, he made the type of movies that spoke to me, and, you know, you know, kind of movies about believing and dreaming about things that are beyond reality and kind of making them real for us, and those are the kinds of things that I'm trying to do now in movie-making, is, you know, teach people how to believe. And its a very cool thing to learn to wonder again, to remember what it was like to be a kid.
WATERS: Well, you're -- you're hotter than a pistol right now. You also have -- many folks may not be aware of this, you also have "Stuart Little" out...
WATERS: ... and that's a huge box office smash, as they say in the huge-box-office-smash business.
SHYAMALAN: Been -- yes, it's been a good year.
WATERS: So, you've got all the money you need, now you've got an Oscar nomination. To what do you attribute the success of "The Sixth Sense"? I would say that the nomination of Haley Joel Osment would say a lot about why your movie was so successful.
SHYAMALAN: Well, I think there's a lot of reasons when a movie is successful on this level, because it's, you know, in a rare company of movies, and I think that there are a ton of factors. One of them, obviously, is Haley's incredible performance.
But I think that, you know, making a commercial movie with some intelligence, you know, where you respect the audience and you challenge them, that's a big deal, you know. You say, slow down, I'm going to teach you -- you know, tell you a story, here, and I'm going to make everything meaningful and everything is -- has been thought out very well, and, you know, traditionally those kind of things have been for more arty movies and when you make a movie for a world audience with that kind of thought I think that they really responded. And they said, yes, give us more, give us more like that.
WATERS: Where did you find this kid, or did you find this kid? Did you cast this kid?
SHYAMALAN: Yes. You know, we did the -- nothing fancy. We did a traditional casting search for a boy, and we went through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, and finally I met Haley and he read the scenes and it was done, that's it.
WATERS: Well, he was just remarkable. The movie is just great. Much success to you. And I would imagine now that it has been nominated you expect even more financial success. Isn't that what partly this nomination process is all about, making more money?
SHYAMALAN: You know -- well, I don't know about that crass a kind of a statement, but...
(LAUGHTER) WATERS: Go ahead.
SHYAMALAN: You know, what it is for me is that there's just a small group of audience members that hasn't seen the "The Sixth Sense," and those people are, you know, kind of the people that say, you know, I don't go to see horror movies, I don't go to see that kind of movie. Well, it isn't that kind of movie. It's really a kind of, you know, on a level that can be appreciated in an artistic way, and hopefully all those people now will come to see it because it has the stamp of the Academy. And they'll say, you know, what I don't traditionally go to a movie that would scare me or any of this, but I hear it's poignant and it's done, you know, well, so I'm going to go now.
WATERS: Yes. What's the new one you're working on? What's that about?
SHYAMALAN: It's called "Unbreakable," and I'm doing it with Bruce again and Samuel L. Jackson and Julie Ann Moore. We got nominated today, which is exciting, and...
SHYAMALAN: ... and we're going to do it in Philly and come out at Thanksgiving.
WATERS: Well, you're having a very successful career. We thank you for taking time out from your directing of the new movie to talk with us.
SHYAMALAN: Thank you for having me.
WATERS: Congratulations. M. Night Shyamalan.
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