Gang Busters Herald Sun (AUS), March 20, 2003
typed by The OB Files, scans from orlandobloomshrine.com
Orlando Bloom's at the top of the acting tree, writes Claire Sutherland
Sure, he's an actor, but Orlando Bloom sounds genuinely disappointed his scheduled red-carpet appearance for Saturday's Ned Kelly world premiere in Melbourne has been cancelled.
"Oh yeah," he moans from LA. "I'm so disappointed. I'm working on this pirates movie at the moment, then I'm going to do this film called Troy. I have to go back to London to rehearse Troy and there's just no physical way I can make it.
"I think this is going to be such an awesome film for Australia and I just really want to be there and see how people react to it. I want to feel that. And also, I really loved being in Melbourne. It was great fun, but anyway, c'est la vie."
Bloom, 25, has in the space of two years become a major heart-throb.
He was still studying drama in his native UK when he beat hundreds of other young hopefuls for the role of Legolas the elf in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Since then, seemingly without having to life a finger - or take a dinner order, anyway - he's gone directly to major movie-star land.
He was quoted early on as saying he felt as if a career had been handed to him on a plate, a statement he only slightly backs away from now.
"I don't think I said it quite like that, I hope," he says.
"I have been really, really lucky. I was at drama school and auditioning for roles and I was just really fortunate to get the opportunity to work on Lord of the Rings when I left drama school.
"So in that respect, year, it was a fantastic opportunity and I'm very grateful. It was a huge production that kind of launched my career."
It was a career that very nearly didn't happen.
Bloom has broken an inordinate number of bones for someone so young (ribs, nose, both legs, and arm, a wrist, several fingers, and toes, even his skull), but most seriously his back.
After falling out of a window, Bloom spent four days in a hospital bed with the threat of paraplegia hanging over his head.
The news he would walk again gave him a new outlook.
"It made me feel that every day I'm alive is an opportunity. It had a huge effect on my life, both as an actor and as a young guy just trying to get through," he says.
That nearly aborted career now encompasses Ned Kelly, the much anticipated - and destined to be controversial - big-screen version of the life of out best-known bushranger. Bloom, Heath Ledger, Joel Edgerton,
Laurence Kinlan and Philip Barantini take the reins to portray the Kelly gang, while Geoffrey Rush plays Kelly's nemesis and Naomi Watts his (entirely invented) love interest.
Bloom - who plays the level-headed Joe Byrne - is ready to cop criticism over the extent to which filmmaker Gregor Jordon (Two Hands) has manipulated Kelly's life into film fodder.
Kelly's real story contains only hints he may have been in love (with his cousin). In Ned Kelly that love interest becomes the wife of a local aristocrat who seeks a bit rough trade in her stables.
"You know what, we're making a film," Bloom says.
"The film was shot in the period with as much integrity as possible and with as much truth as possible, but who's alive today who was alive then and can say it wasn't true?
"And it's a film. It's a film.
"I think everyone involved was really into that world, the history, and that's what I hope people will come away with.
"I guess when you make a film that's based on a true story people will pick holes in it. At the end of the day it was made with all the right intentions and hopefully people will see it for what it is."
What it is is one of the most costly films to be shot in Victoria. The $33 million price was picked up by the UK-based Working Title film studio (Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary.)
While that sort of budget would take it just above indie/art-house status in the US, it's clearly too high for Working Title to expect to recoup it's money in Australia alone. The film will be given an international push using Heath Ledger's increasingly recognisable face on the posters, and the hope
is the story is sufficiently universal to appeal to American and European audiences.
For the reason, there were early suggestions that the heart-throb types in the cast (Ledger and Bloom) should appear clean-shaven.
"They wanted to shorten Ned's beard or not have it all so they could use Heath's face to sell the film. Obviously, Heath being Heath, he fought that battle bravely and he won," Bloom confirms.
And as for the film appealing to a more global audience, Bloom has no doubts.
"I don't think it's a specific just to Australia. It has all the elements for a great movie, which is why it was made.
I mean, they guys were crazy. Can you imagine walking out there in those suits of armour?"
The famous siege, along with most of the film's other outdoor scenes, was filmed at a private property in the You Yangs, about 25 minutes west of Melbourne.
Bloom spent three months living in a St Kilda apartment, sampling the local nightlife.
"There were loads of really good restaurants and I used to have beers down the Espy with Joel. Great sunsets at the Espy."
A worthy gang member indeed.
Ned Kelly opens March 27.