M. Night Shyamalan's critically-acclaimed breakthrough horror film The Sixth Sense made Haley Joel Osment a star and landed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination at the ripe old age of 11. Cole Sear, the little boy who can communicate with the dead, was a plum role, and lots of Hollywood's youngest actors were eager to see dead people in the 1999 flick.
Liam Aiken, the star of Stepmom and later A Series of Unfortunate Events, auditioned for Shyamalan. He wanted the role badly, but his mother declined due to his age (he was only eight at the time) and the dark subject matter. While he's mostly now known as a comedic actor, Michael Cera also auditioned to play the sensitive, troubled Cole. In an interview with Esquire, Cera recalled not knowing the character sees dead people and instead playing the serious, emotional audition scene "very optimistically." Needless to say, Cera's shot at the role was dead too.