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The 'Pirates' Life on the Set, The Arizona Republic (US), July 3, 2003
by Bill Muller

While making Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley shared more than their on-screen romance. During filming, both young English stars were shipwrecked for real, and both had trouble catching their breath - albeit for different reasons.
Knightley, star of the sleeper hit Bend It Like Beckham, found herself aboard a sinking speedboat after shooting scenes with co-star Johnny Depp on a nearby island.
"The boat started going down, we had to jump out, and we realized we'd washed up on a reef," says Knightley, who rescued a "sparkly purse," a cowboy hat and her passport. "We waited there in the pitch black for about 45 minutes before two Frenchmen came in a rubber dinghy and rescued us. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life.
"I can safely say I'm a Method actress now because I got shipwrecked."
Bloom, known for his role as the elf Legolas in The Lord of the Rings films, found himself in a similar situation with a borrowed kayak, which had a hole that he discovered too late.
"We thought, 'Well, we'll just paddle around the island," he says. "Well, we get halfway around the island and it started to sink . . . so we had to kind of get rescued and towed in."
Bloom played his own rescuer during a scary sequence that featured his character trapped below the decks of a sinking ship.
"You have to get yourself into that state of panic, and it is really unnerving," Bloom says.
"At the end . . . I couldn't grab the air (hose) so I just swam out of the set. I was, like, done, like a little guppy swimming to the surface."
Knightley also had trouble getting air, mostly because the film called for her to wear a corset. Determined to shrink her waist to Scarlett O'Hara proportions, Knightley often felt faint.
"I hated that corset," she says with a laugh. "It's so painful. It's like beyond oxygen deprivation."
She was also dizzy during a "walk the plank" sequence.
"If they'd just say 'OK, jump, I would have been fine," says Knightley, who shooed away a stunt double and leaped into the water to complete the scene. "But it was standing up there for two days with the bloody plank wobbling about . . . it just completely freaked me out."
In the film, which opens Wednesday, Knightley plays a governor's daughter who is kidnapped by a band of cursed pirates, who transform into skeletons in the moonlight. Bloom plays her childhood friend and would-be suitor, who vows to rescue her from the evil Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) with the help of flamboyant pirate Jack Sparrow (Depp).
Besides their common exploits on and off the screen, Bloom and Knightley are also both on the cusp of stardom.
Knightley's path was more unlikely, considering her actor father and playwright mother tried to steer her away from show business.
Undeterred, Knightley demanded an agent at age 3 (she was turned down), but finally got her way after being diagnosed with dyslexia. Her mother challenged her to read every day during summer vacation, and when she did, she was allowed to act.
But she wasn't permitted to miss any school, and her parents made sure she stayed grounded.
"They did not want to have a stage-school brat," Knightley says.
Of her co-star Bloom, who has become a magazine-cover teen heartthrob, Knightley says, "He's fanciable."
"I think he's got that androgynous sort of boyish look," she says. "I mean terribly attractive boyish look, so he's sort of unthreatening to teenage girls, I suppose."
Bloom, 26, said he was impressed with the maturity of Knightley, who was 17 during filming and only recently turned 18.
"She's very talented, very beautiful," Bloom says. "I think she's going to go the distance . . . she's got all the goods."
Bloom, who's rocketed to fame with The Lord of the Rings, said he's amazed at the dedication of his young female fans, including one who drove three hours to a set in Australia, then waited another nine hours for him to finish filming.
At the same time, fame is not something he ever imagined.
"It's flattering, but to be honest I'm not really interested in being a celebrity," he says. "It's not really about that. I like the work. I enjoy being an actor."