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Love Blooms at Last for Orlando, Now (UK), August 6, 2003
typed by Karen, scan by Elements

Orlando's big break came quickly when he walked out of college and straight into a blockbuster.

Orlando Bloom has revealed the reason why he's keeping his romance with American actress Kate Bosworth so low-key. After spending several years as a single man, he's wary of jinxing the relationship which has brought him contentment. Orlando, 26, launched his movie acting career with a major role in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy just two days after leaving drama school - and since then he's hardly stopped working. He also had to spend years recovering from a series of injuries, which made him fear for the future and put a check on his freedom - not to mention his love life.

But now he's enjoying a relationship with 20-year-old Kate, despite being thousands of miles from her most of the time as his career continues to soar. At the moment he's in Mexico filming Troy with Brad Pitt, while Kate's in Los Angeles. "I never like to discuss personal relationships," says Orlando. "It strikes me as disrespectful to the other person. What I will say is that I'm happy at the moment - and long may it continue".

Orlando has transformed himself in the six years since, as a bit part actor, he played a rent boy who shouted an insult across the street to Oscar Wilde, played by Stephen Fry, in Wilde. It's a far cry from playing elf hero Legolas in the Lord Of The Rings films - the final installment The Return Of The King hits the big screen this Christmas.

He has also traveled the world. He was based in Los Angeles while working on his latest movie Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, which is out this week, and visited Australia to film Ned Kelly, set to be released on 19 September. Luckily he was in Los Angeles long enough to meet Kate, who's best known for starring in The Rules Of Attraction. "Part of my problem is that I've always put work first in the past," says Orlando. "I think it's going to be a problem in the future, too. I'm having such a great time with the films I'm doing and I feel so lucky to be doing them that I don't want to let go. That's not always the best attitude if you want to develop a relationship."

He also saw, close up, the romance spark between his 24-year-old co-star Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts, 34, in Ned Kelly. "They didn't want anyone to know at first, so I pretended Naomi was with me for some of the time," he says. "It's never easy during that time when a new relationship develops - before anyone really knows where it's going to go. But if you have to do it in the public eye, the it's much worse. I spent years being able to walk along any street, completely unregognised some of the time and, while I'm not objecting, it can be a little awkward. So that's why I like to keep things close to my chest. I don't want to spoil anything by presuming too much. Besides, my ambition was always to get as much work as possible."

Orlando was brought up in Canterbury, Kent by his mother Sonia and family friend Colin Stone, after the man he thought was his biological father, famous South African anti-apartheid figure Harry Bloom, died when Orlando was just four. Then, at the age of 13, his mother sat him down and told him the truth - that Colin was in fact his real dad. "It's an unusual story but, then, you show me a family and I'll show you an unusual story," says Orlando. Such a bombshell, however, didn't divert him from his main aim. "I always wanted to act," he says. "I knew what I wanted and I think that's a great advantage. If you know what you want to do in life, you just aim for it and get on with it. If you aim in the right direction, with the right intention, then anything is possible. That's what my mum brought me up to believe and I've tried to prove her right."

But there were a series of setbacks before Orlando's chance came. After A levels, he took a year off to travel, but broke his leg in a motorbike accident. "I ended up traveling no further than London and working in a shop -Paul Smith in Covent Garden," he says. "The injury held me back, but I got a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for three years."

Yet again, injury was to force him to delay plans. Towards the end of his second year he injured himself by falling three floors from a friend's apartment. "There was a roof terrace with a mangled door" he recalls. "I forced it open and fell out. I grabbed on to a drain pipe, but that gave way and I landed on the terrace two floors below. I hit the ground between some rusty railings and an old washing machine, so I have to think I was lucky. It's a miracle that I walked again as I had no strength in my legs and only a little movement in my toes. I was taken to hospital and had two plates fitted either side of my spine and four bolts. The operation lasted six hours. It also meant me wearing a brace for the next year. The timing was terrible. Everything was going well for me at drama school and this came out of the pure blue sky. I did start to wonder, in the first few days, if all my plans and dreams were going to end."

But Orlando struggled on once again. "There were some issues about whether I was going to complete the three-year-course or not," he says. "They were worried about whether the injury would prevent me from doing it. I was determined to finish it. It had a profound effect on my life. When you have a life-threatening injury, you're forced to confront your deepest fears and the darkest areas of your mind. I think I discovered more about myself in those months than I probably would have done otherwise. My tutors at college would agree that it changed me. It gave me more of a maturity and greater determination."

Orlando has been showing determination ever since. "For a young actor leaving drama school, I've met all my hopes and expectations and passed them by about 100 miles," he says. He's already co-starred with Sir Ian McKellen, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. He was also hired by top director Ridley Scott for a role in his gritty 2001 film Black Hawk Down. "I've now worked with some of the best in the business," he says. "Not only actors, but also crew and directors. I don't want to sound smug, because I don't feel it, but the whole thing has been an education. When I look at my life so far, it's been like a fantasy. But I also know that lives and careers can go wrong in an instant. So I'm carrying on enjoying it while the good times remain."