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Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum, The Daily Mirror (UK), August 8, 2003
By John Hiscock

Orlando Bloom has swapped pointed elf ears for a swashbuckling sword to become one of the biggest heroes in Hollywood

When Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp met the Prime Minister of a Caribbean island they sank to their knees... because they were too drunk to stand. Dizzy with red wine, the two men fell out of their private plane and literally crawled across the tarmac as the Prime Minister of St Vincent held out his hand to greet them.

"He goes, 'Hey, man, very pleased to introduce you to St Vincent'," recalls Orlando with a laugh. "And Johnny just crawled past him, then gave him a huge hug and kissed him. I was crawling after Johnny. It was crazy. We had been drinking red wine on the plane and maybe the altitude had something to do with it."

Bloom, Depp and Keira Knightley were on the island to film the Walt Disney adventure Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, which has already proved a huge hit in America and has confirmed Orlando's status as Hollywood's newest heartthrob.

Ever since he set teenage girls' hearts aflutter as the blond archer Legolas Greenleaf in Lord Of The Rings, 26-year-old Orlando has been the biggest star on the internet with even more fan websites than Leonardo DiCaprio. And in real-life, his star status gets feverish acclaim.

Wherever he goes in America he is mobbed by fans. On a recent visit to Disneyland for the premiere of Pirates Of The Caribbean, he was overwhelmed by a mob of screaming, hysterical girl fans.

His Pirates co-star and fellow Brit Keira Knightley, says of him: "Orlando's a one-man boyband. He's very good looking and a lovely person."

For the somewhat shy Orlando, from Canterbury in Kent, all the sudden attention is a bit bewildering and hard to handle.

"It's just such a circus. In groups the girls get rather intimidating. It makes me nervous," he confesses. "I'm trying to adjust to all the changes that are happening. There's mountains of fan mail and it's really a lot to deal with. It's flattering but it doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not interested in being a celebrity or a movie star. I'm just trying to be an actor. There's a lot of stuff that goes on around it, but what I really enjoy is the work."

His father, Harry Bloom, was a South African writer and anti-apartheid activist who died when he was four. When Orlando was a boy his mother, Sonia, encouraged him and his sister to take part in school plays and compete in poetry and prose readings at the Canterbury Festival. Now she keeps track of the countless internet sites dedicated to him and encourages him to correct any errors that appear on them. 

After leaving school, Orlando spent two seasons with the National Youth Theatre and studied at the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama. Yet with only one small film role behind him - as a rent boy in 1997's Wilde - director Peter Jackson picked him to play the elf Legolas in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. His soulful dark eyes, chiselled cheekbones and slightly girlish good looks made him an instant idol for teenage girls, even though he was wearing a waist-length wig and pointed prosthetic ears.

He lived in New Zealand for 18 months during the filming of the Lord Of The Rings movies - the third, The Return Of The King, is due out in December - and he spent his spare time bungee jumping, skateboarding and sky-diving, defying doctors who told him he would never walk again after a fall five years ago had left him paralysed.

"I fell three floors out of a window when I was trying to get on to a roof terrace," he recalls. "I broke my back and they operated on me but said I would never walk again. The damage was very near my spinal cord but they managed to put me back together and 12 days later I walked out of hospital on crutches.

"It makes me think I must be a bit of a fighter. But it was kind of scary and a blessing in disguise because at the time everything was going really well and I wasn't appreciating it. Now, because of what happened, I look on everything that happens as a bit of a bonus. And I take care of myself, too."

While filming Lord Of The Rings, Orlando was chosen by producer Jerry Bruckheimer to be one of the ensemble cast of the war drama Black Hawk Down and Bruckheimer then cast him as the blacksmith Will Turner in Pirates Of The Caribbean.

The film reunited him with veteran swordsman Bob Anderson, who has trained every screen swashbuckler since Errol Flynn and who worked with Bloom on Lord Of The Rings.

"It was incredible to work with him again and I got pretty good at fencing and sword fighting," says Orlando. "It was quite a big undertaking and there were a few accidents. There's always some little nips and jabs when you're doing stuff like that. In one scene in the blacksmith's shop, where Johnny started throwing hammers at me, I got hit by a couple of them and I have the bruises to prove it." In between sword fights and plenty of pirate action, he has his first on-screen romance which involves giving Keira Knightley her first screen kiss. "I'll be the envy of every teen girl," she laughs.

Off-screen, Orlando is keeping tight-lipped about his love life although he recently dated actress Kate Bosworth, who starred in the surf film Blue Crush. "I don't like to talk about that stuff," he says. "It's not necessary. People want to know everything."

In any case, Orlando doesn't have much time for romance at the moment as he is too busy working and juggling scripts and film offers.

"I'm working like a lunatic," he says. "I have been really, really busy and haven't stopped to take a breath. It's kind of surreal right now because every time I go away to work, I get in the work mode, and then suddenly there's the release of a movie and it's all crazy, then it all dies down again.

"I'm just trying to adjust to all the different things that are happening at such a rapid pace and trying to deal with them."

He will be seen with Heath Ledger early next year in Ned Kelly and is currently in Malta filming Troy with another heartthrob, Brad Pitt.  

"We went out in Malta on Saturday night in the heart of party land," he says. "That was an experience - to see someone get properly mobbed. The whole town came apart. Brad was so impeccable in his manner, the way he carried himself. He was very gracious with everyone."

Orlando has been learning from his co-stars about dealing with the pressures of stardom.

"In drama school you don't get an insight into this and I'm still trying to figure it out," he says with a puzzled laugh.

"I guess you have to do the best you can because there isn't a guide book. I've picked Johnny and Brad's brains an awful lot, but this is the weirdest industry. There is no rhyme nor reason to it so you just have to listen to your heart and try and stay real."

l Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl is released today.