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Career in Full Bloom, Calgary Sun (Canada), July 6, 2003
by Steve Tilley

LOS ANGELES — Feel like giving your sympathy muscles a gruelling workout? Try feeling sorry for Orlando Bloom.

Oh dear, he’s ever so desperately attractive, with those penetrating eyes and tousled chestnut locks and slim-yet-athletic frame and a London lilt that gets the ladies a-swoonin’. Must be tough.

Oh my, he’s merely starred in one of the most significant movie events of our time, playing the goldilock’d elf Legolas in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, before landing roles opposite the likes of Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt in back-to-back monster-budget Hollywood extravaganzas. What a horrible way to make a living.

The strange thing is, you actually could feel sort of sorry for Bloom. He’s tired. Like, really tired. Putting on a brave face for one-on-one interviews for Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, opening in theatres July 9, but still tired.

“I’ve just come over from Malta, I’m working on Troy over there at the moment,” Bloom explained as he invited his interrogator to take a seat opposite him in a posh Century City hotel suite.

“I’m kind of like, hmm, a little bit displaced.”

Not that Bloom’s complaining — not at all. If there’s anything that keeps coming up in conversation over a box of mint chocolate malted balls dug out of a gift basket left in the room, it’s how very, very lucky he feels.

“I’ve played an elf, an army guy, a bush ranger, a boxer, a pirate and now a romantic. I do feel incredibly lucky,” Bloom said, referring to — in order — The Lord Of The Rings, Black Hawk Down, Ned Kelly, The Calcium Kid, Pirates Of The Caribbean and Wolfgang Petersen’s upcoming epic Troy, about a gal named Helen and big wooden horse.

“It’s amazing, the opportunities,” Bloom said. “But it’s kind of overwhelming to cope with everything that goes along with that.”

Well, it’s not likely to get better any time soon. If playing Legolas hasn’t already make him a household name — the blond wig and pointy ears, at least, meant he could walk down streets in his civvies and go largely unnoticed — Pirates Of The Caribbean ought to change all that.

The 26-year-old Londoner plays stout-hearted blacksmith Will Turner, who forms an uneasy alliance with scalawag Capt. Jack Sparrow (Depp).

The pair set sail in a bid to find Sparrow’s ship and rescue fair maiden Elizabeth Swann (Bend It Like Beckham’s Keira Knightley) from its mutinous — and cursed — crew.

Seas are sailed, skeleton pirates are battled and many a swash is buckled. In the end — and it’s not like this is really giving much away, being as it’s a romantic pirate adventure story — the blacksmith gets the girl.

In real life, Bloom could probably get the girl, and the girl’s sister, and the girl’s entire graduating class, and maybe the girl’s mom, great aunt and granny, too. But you can’t be a heartthrob without rejecting your heartthrob status. It’s in the rules.

“It’s like a rite of passage,” Bloom said in another interview. “You have to create yourself to be something” — in this case, the heroic, clean-cut pretty boy — “and then you get the chance to go against it.”

The attention he gets from fans who coo over his looks while ignoring his craft is flattering, “but I trained three years as an actor, and it’s like maybe
I’ll just go do some theatre for a while,” Bloom said.

“I’m infuriated, because there’s this comment that somebody said (in a teen magazine) that I would do a movie for no money if I just got to kiss a girl. Who the hell writes this? That is just so wrong.”

Bloom has been romantically linked to Blue Crush star Kate Bosworth, but don’t even go there.

Keeping his private life private is one of the mechanisms he uses to cope with his sudden celebrity status.

“And part of it is to be able to say, ‘You know what? That’s my area, and I’d rather keep it that way.’ ”

So, back to the craft then. In the upcoming Troy, based on the poems of the famous Homer who’s not The Simpsons patriarch, Bloom plays Paris.

He’s the prince who kidnaps Helen and kicks off that whole Trojan War debacle.

Paris is a lover, not a fighter, though Pitt’s character in Troy finds out than even a romantic gets a lucky shot once in a while.

“I don’t get to do that much with Brad, because he’s Achilles,” Bloom said. “I shoot him in the heel at the end, but aside from that we don’t particularly do much on screen together.”

Then there’s this little The Lord Of The Rings thing. Bloom just recently finished his final pickup shots for Return Of The King, capping off the trilogy when it comes to theatres in December, though principal photography wrapped more than two years ago.

“They gave me the clapper board from my last shot in the movie, and they gave me my bow and arrow, and they cut together a clip of stuff that was amazing,” Bloom said.

“It was really sad, it was hugely emotional.”

And the much-publicized daredevil sports he and fellow Rings cast members enjoyed while filming in New Zealand are mostly a thing of the past, thanks to Bloom’s more cautious outlook on life.

“I just approach everything in a much more kind of grounded, matter-of-fact, less airy and flighty kind of manner,” he said. “If I’m going to get on a snowboard, I’m aware I could do some serious damage to myself.”

And he’s done enough of that already, most recently breaking a rib when he fell from a horse during filming of Rings in New Zealand.

More seriously, in 1998, he broke his back in when he fell three floors from an apartment window. (“I was told I might not walk again. Then they operated, and I walked out of the hospital in about 12 days.”)

Frankly, right now, he just needs a rest.

“I’m going to go back to London and take some time,” Bloom said, setting aside the box of minty chocolate treats. “I just feel like I need to take some time. I’m really stretched.”

Tired, yes. Complaining, no. Don’t feel sorry for Bloom.

“I haven’t read (a script) that’s really made me sit up, so I’ll keep reading until I do,” he said.

“That’s the great thing. To be in a position where you can take the time you need.”