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A Star In Bloom, Canada.com, May 30, 2003
By Suzanne Ellis

Over the last decade, Johnny Depp has proven himself to be more than just a pretty-boy actor -- will his Pirates Of The Caribbean co-star (and new babe on the block) Orlando Bloom do the same?

Orlando Bloom is at that difficult time in a young star's life -- when he has to prove that he's not just a pretty face, but a decent actor as well.

As Legolas the Elf, Bloom is the best-looking part of Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy -- and he has Liv Tyler and New Zealand to compete with. Since the first film, Fellowship Of The Ring, hit theatres in December 2001, at least a dozen fan sites have popped up on the 'net, among them: Full Bloom, The Bloom Room, and The Hottie Of The Ring.

The Hottie Of The Ring? Hard to be taken seriously with that tag.

Before I upset any Bloom-ers, I'd like to stipulate that there hasn't been a thing wrong with his performances in the first two Rings films. He walks softly and carries a big bow, as any Elf should. But in both, he was clearly playing a supporting role. Same thing in his other major feature to date, Ridley Scott's gripping Black Hawk Down, in which he played doomed solder Todd Blackburn.

The first big test for the 26-year-old from Canterbury, England looks to be Disney's action-adventure blockbuster Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, opening July 9. In it, he plays Will Turner, the sidekick to Johnny Depp's swashbuckling rogue Jack Sparrow. In the credits, he's billed third after Depp and Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush. Not bad for the Brit newbie.

Hopefully Bloom took advantage of his time on the set to pick up some tips and advice. If there's one actor who's successfully navigated his way from the cover of Tiger Beat magazine to a respected and varied acting career, it's Depp.

Turning 40 in June, Kentucky-born Depp became a superstar through TV, not movies. His first movie role, as one of Freddy Krueger's victims in the original Nightmare On Elm Street received a bit of attention, but it was as cutie-pie cop Tom Hanson in the cheesy drama 21 Jump Street that Depp made it big.

And though any pre-teen girl from that time (myself included) would've disagreed, it was hard to imagine him becoming anything but a name in the pages of bad-TV history.

Depp was determined to avoid that -- and he did thanks largely to a three-film partnership with dark genius Tim Burton. Burton directed Depp on three key films in his career -- Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, and Sleepy Hollow. All were important films in the actor's career because they showed his versatility, and a flair for playing charming oddballs.

In Scissorhands, Depp evoked emotions in a role with few words, and concealed his good looks beneath a pasty-white face and a crazy black mop of hair. As Ichabod Crane in Burton's take on the famed Washington Irving tale Sleepy Hollow, he incorporated some of the more memorable traits of the classic tale's flawed hero -- the cowardliness, the clumsiness -- and yet made the role his own.

However it was his performance as the titular character in Ed Wood that brought Depp the most accolades -- to this day it remains among his best performances, if not the best overall. As the cross-dressing director of the most famous B-movie of all time, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Depp owned the screen. Martin Landau won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi -- unfortunately Depp was robbed of even a nomination though he did win the London Film Critics Society's Best Actor prize for the role.

Aside from the three for Burton, Depp has impressed audiences and critics by picking a wide assortment of roles, from playing Raoul Duke in the film version of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, to drug-smuggler George Jung in Blow, to undercover cop Joseph Pistone in Donnie Brasco. He's worked with visionary directors -- from Roman Polanski, to Terry Gilliam, to Jim Jarmusch. He's agreed to parts other actors of his stature would consider too small, in films he believes in, like 2000's acclaimed Before Night Falls.

Bloom has been compared to Depp -- the two look a lot alike, and in certain scenes as Legolas, he exudes a Depp-like intensity. From the looks of it, Bloom appears to be following in the elder actor's footsteps in a few other areas -- taking parts in films by respected directors, and surrounding himself with talented actors.

He stars again with Geoffrey Rush, as well as Heath Ledger, in the Australian film Ned Kelly, returns as Legolas in the final Rings film Return Of The King this winter, and has agreed to a part in the Wolfgang Petersen epic Troy, starring Brad Pitt -- to be released next year.

He's also shown that he won't take just any role. After a bit part in the film Wilde, about poet Oscar Wilde, the then-20-year-old rejected several film offers in favour of the stage. Always a good sign, when an actor is willing to try theatre. He appeared in Chekhov's The Seagull and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night before Peter Jackson recruited him for the part of Legolas.

At 26, Orlando Bloom is certainly in the dawn of his career. But if he stays on track, finds a director like Burton to bring out what he's capable of, maybe he'll transcend his flavour-of-the-month Web Hottie status to become a solid, respected actor with longevity.