The Incredible Hunk, The Irish Times magazine, August 2, 2003
typed by Carey, scans by Sarah
Move over Colin, step aside Brad- is the swashbuckling ORLANDO BLOOM the
next big thing, asks Derek O' Connor.
"It's weird, isn't it? I'm a pikey boy from Kent at the end of the day."
Elle Magazine, August 2003
The word is "buzz". And buzz drives today's multi-billion dollar
entertainment industry; it shifts units, be they cinema tickets, CDs, DVDs
or magazines, and, ultimately, whether anybody actually likes to admit it or
not, shifting units is absolutely everything. Buzz can indeed be
manufactured but it can't be sustained for any length of time- without
eventually delivering. The buzz on Colin Farrell got him million-dollar
paydays without the Castleknock kid ever having opened a big movie. And at
the very moment when those LA movers and shakers might have wondered if
their investment was actually worth it. Bam! three US number ones in a row.
In the last one, Phone Booth, Colin Farrell was the star.
The result? Farrell steps up that significant level form Next Big Thing to
Someone Who Opens A Movie. He can have the odd dud or two, he can get
smaller projects financed, and he can breathe a little easier. Now,
Hollywood needs fresh meat. Over the next 12 months, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt
and Keanu Reeves all hit 40 years-of-age, and with one generation of $20
million-a-movie talent getting on, a new generation is needed. Urgently.
This is a key reason as to why, right now, the buzz surrounding Orlando
Bloom is deafening. Somebody smells money.
"There's absolutely nothing sexually threatening about an elf. Legolas is a
good, safe guy for girls to pin their dreams on."
Newsweek, July 2003
Most people over 30 probably won't have too much of an idea who Orlando
Bloom is, a fact that probably contributes even further to the young
Londoner's massive teenage fan base. If someone was to tell you that the
actor, who plays blond archer elf Legolas in the film adaptations of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, was the most searched- for actor on
three of the four main Internet engines in 2002, you might be a tad
surprised. Indeed, Orlandomultimedia.net, one of the 50-plus websites
solely dedicated to the man and his slim body of work to date, currently
receives some 320,000 hits a day. Leonardo Di Caprio, even at the height of
Titanic mania, wouldn't get a look in.
Talk to any girl under the age of 17, however (as well as a decent
spattering of females a great deal older), and the Cult of Bloom suddenly
begins to make sense. After all, he's a dream boat. He's a hunk (you're damn
right there!). He's gorrrrrrrrrrgeous. Whatever "It" is, he's got it in
buckets. And spades.
"The hunk thing makes me nervous. It's flattering, but it doesn't mean
anything to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm much more
interested in being an actor and growing."
USA Today, July 2003
But can Bloom cut the mustard? This month, we get another chance to scrutinize Orlando in full bloom, tackling his first romantic lead in a
mega-budget Disney spectacular, Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the
Black Pearl. While the premise may not sound all that promising- it is,
after all, the first major motion picture based upon a theme park ride- the
results are surprisingly agreeable, particularly after a cinematic summer
primarily comprised of under whelming, over cooked sequels.
As supernatural swash-buckling romps go, Pirates. is a must see, if only for
one reason; Bloom's Co-star, Johnny Depp. As a disheveled, down-on-his-luck
sea slat name Jack Sparrow, Depp offers a one-man master class in
show-stealing. He makes the movie. Young Bloom, on the other hand, can't
compete- very few young actors possibly could. He contents himself with
playing the straight man- a noble young blacksmith with a mysterious past-
with a certain, understated nobility, and gets to save the day and kiss the
girl. Everybody's happy. The critics will love Johnny, but the punters won't
"People have this idea of me that I cruise cities looking for the next
building to throw myself off. That's bollocks."
The Face, August 2003
The Orlando Bloom story, then. He's 26 years old, born and raised in
Canterbury, underachieved in school (he's severely dyslexic) but always had
an eye for the spotlight. He moved to London at the age of 16 and joined the
National Youth Theatre, followed by London's Guildhall School of Music and
Drama, combining his studies with odd acting gigs (one line as a rent boy in
Wilde), day jobs in shops such as Box Fresh and Paul Smith, and a busy night
life as a London Club kid. Plucked from Guildhall three days before
graduation by Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings gig, it's been a
rollercoaster ever since.
Old flames included model Jodie Kidd (actually it was rumoured it was Jemma,
Jodie's sister) and actress Christina Ricci (denied). Right now, however,
he's rumoured to be dating Blue Crush star Kate Bosworth. Sorry, girls.
Forthcoming projects included a sidekick role to Heath Ledger's bandit king
in a revisionist Ned Kelly biopic, and his first starring role proper,
alongside Billie Piper in low-budget Britcom The Calcium Kid. Bloom is
currently filming Troy, director Wolfgang Peterson's epic take on Grecian
Legend, where he plays war-mongering Paris alongside Brad Pitt's Achilles.
The supporting cast includes Eric (the hulk) Bana, Julie Christie, Brendan
Gleeson and Peter O'Toole. Nice work, if you can get it.
In-depth Bloom profiles tend to stress two matters: the death of his father,
Afrikaner anti-partied lawyer Harry Bloom, when Orlando was four (it later
transpired that a "close family friend", Colin Stone, was his biological
father), and his considerable propensity for injury. To date, he has broken
both legs, various ribs, fingers and toes, cracked his skull (three times)
and was written off at 21 as crippled for life, after a three-storey fall
climbing onto a mate's roof broke his back. Five years later, he's a
Hollywood player. Funny old world. He appeared briefly in the first series
of BBC's The Office. And Legolas's luscious blond tresses are we're sad to
report (after a year of it already being known), a wig.
"It's a good choice. The movie has a broad spectrum. This will help Orlando down the
path of becoming a true movie star."
Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer. (Who has worked with Orli previously on Black Hawk Down)
Already, Orlando's nudging the A-list. Rumours suggest that he's one of the
myriad of stars who have passed on the role of Superman in the forthcoming,
mega-budget remake. Apparently the fear of typecasting that comes with the
iconic cape and red knickers has already scared off everybody form Jude Law
to Ashton Kutcher. Press access to Bloom is at a premium these days; a
recent day of interviews in London saw journos being offered 15-minute
one-on-one chats; half the usual minimal length, and rather difficult to
transform into an intimate, revealing bonding session. If celebrity is
currency, Orlando Bloom is seriously flush.
"When I first got the [pirates] script, I was like, I'm not really interested. And
then it was put to me in a different way, which was that if I opened a door like
this, it will ultimately put me in a marketplace where I can get projects made that
I want to get made."
Premiere, June 2003
Isn't this all a bit cynical? Absolutely. What about the art? Well,
there's that too. It hasn't hurt the Orlando Bloom industry that Peter
Jackson's Rings movies have been, for many, truly sublime cinematic
experiences. Studio execs took a $300 million risk on a bear-like New
Zealander best loved for kitchy horror flicks such as Brain Dead and
found themselves winners on every imaginable level.
The first LOTR movie, The fellowship of the Ring, garnered
near-unanimous critical acclaim and nearly a billion dollars at the
global box office, covering the costs (and some!) of the remaining two
chapters of the cinematic trilogy before they had even been released.
And from that phenomenon sprang the mini-phenomenon that is the rise and
rise of Orlando Bloom.
With a blockbuster-a-year guaranteed over a three-year period, all
Hollywood had to do was pave the way to fortune, glory and
above-the-title billing for the next Next Big Thing. And it's doing its
Bloom didn't have to carry Pirates of the Caribbean, but his presence
made it more attractive preposition to the potential teenage punter. The
result? $150 million worth of ticket sales Stateside in less than a
fortnight, and a bona fide critical and commercial box-office hit in a
summer of heavy-hitting underachievers. He won't have to carry Troy,
either- that's Brad Pitt's job- but if it succeeds, and there's every
chance that it will, he'll be that one step closer to being the name
above the title. The one that matters.
"I've had enough of being the cool clean-shaven elf; the cool, wholesome pirate
The Face, August 2003
That's why, ultimately, his new mate Johnny Depp is so important. There
are certain kind of intelligence, those whom the audience trusts won't
appear in any old nonsense, who then promptly appear in any old
nonsense. Kevin Spacey blew it, for example, when he decided he wanted
to embrace "emotional" roles: cue duds such as Pay it Forward, The
Shipping News and The Life of David Gale. Depp, on the other hand, has
managed to fashion a truly unpredictable and electric motion picture
career. Sure, there are clinkers aplenty (chocolat and the ninth gate),
but the man can bring in indie integrity to Pirates of the Caribbean
that makes it an occasional delight. Indeed, in certain scenes one can
almost sense our boy Orlando trying to suss out just how it's done.
He has already expressed a strong desire to leave his teenybopper image
behind (think of Lord of the Rings as his boy band days), with that
"quality" dream project already in his sights: a biopic of
photojournalist Dan Eldon, who died covering the Somalian conflict in
In Troy, Bloom's Paris gets to face off against Brad Pitt, another
off-centre screen idol. Beyond the buzz, beyond the hype and the sheer
adoration, has our Legolas got a Fight Club or an Edward Scissorhands in
him somewhere? He'd like to think so.
Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl is released on August 8th.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is released on December 17th.