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In Full Bloom, Play magazine (The Times) (UK), July 26, 2003
scan from LittleMiss

Plucked from obscurity to play elf prince Legolas in Lord of the Rings, Orlando Bloom is now swashbuckling his way to the top, says Ian Nathan

Understandably, Orlando Bloom is looking dazed. How on earth do you make sense of this? In less than three years he has gone from a hopeful to a superstar with all the attendant publicity, photo shoots, adoring fans, entourages and all round insanity that is carried in the wake of rapid success. Quite frankly, he looks embarrassed; as if the cameras have been pointing at the wrong face (hardly), or someone has just tapped him on the shoulder and whispered into his pointy ear, "Gotcha, you fraud". Right now, the freshly minted British golden boy is pointing his perfect cheekbones to the ground and shaking his lustrous hair. "Am I holding it together?" he asks himself, "I don't know man."

The introspection is, thankfully, brief and he grins the traffic-stopping, pristine smile of a young man who has recently cornered the market in good fortune.

"No, it's been good, really good," he continues, his voice earnest. "Troy's been awesome. It's a really pleasant day's work. We've been having a load of fun. It's funny, I was there the other day thinking how comfortable I am with big sets now. That's quite a privileged position to be in, if you know what I mean."

By current reckoning this well-mannered 26-year-old is about the biggest British star in the world, leaving the Ewans and Judes in the red glow of his tail-lights. He has no fewer than five films coming out in the next year alone: Pirates of the Caribbean (as the girl-rescuing, Depp-bonding pretty boy Will); the aforementioned mega-budget Homer remix Troy (as the wife-stealing, war-mongering pretty boy Paris); Ned Kelly (as the police-baiting, rebel-yelling pretty boy Joe); The Calcium Kid (as the milk-delivering, pugilist wannabe pretty boy Jimmy); and, of course, a last run as the career-making Legolas (elf), fondly referred to as "Leggy" in LOTR: The Return of the King.

It was as a result of Leggy's effortless exploits that the fervour began; a screaming obsession normally reserved for the members of boy bands. Each week, hundreds of letters pour in from adoring fans. "It's lovely, so flattering," he shrugs.

If you need further confirmation of his nascent jamminess, in 1998 the accident-prone youngster fell from a third floor window and broke his back. Doctors feared that he would never walk again. In a matter of weeks he was up and about, hitting the London club scene and trawling the audition circuit in the hope of that big break. Early in 1999, he was called in to read for a forthcoming fantasy film called Lord of the Rings, for the relatively small role of Faramir.

Peter Jackson took one look at that face, imagined a long blonde wig in place and he had his Legolas. "I will never feel more appreciative for what they have done for me," Bloom utters every time Rings slips into conversation. "Not just as an actor but as a guy getting to live in New Zealand and experience that culture."

The words catch up with him again and he smiles sheepishly. "Look, it's amazing. I've been sharing scenes with Johnny Depp in the Caribbean. I know that when I say things like that there is someone somewhere going: 'F****** bastard'."

He has had it good - arguably deservedly so - and he knows it. The encouraging sign is that he can also see the absurdity of it all. He understands the need to stop and take stock of things, to hold it together. He ably circumvents any talk of his current girlfriend, the actress Kate Bosworth.

"That is the hardest thing at the moment," he agrees. "What is real or not. What's real for me is my friends and my family. When you travel and work you lose a bit of perspective. It is hard to keep an eye on reality because the realms of those things change so quickly."

He may have left home at 16 to pursue his dreams of acting, but you cannot take Kent from the boy. Bloom is currently buying a house in London to maintain a firm base, he brings his sister along to photo shoots and his mobile buzzes with messages from mates that go as far back as school. The son of the famed South African writer Harry Bloom (who died when Orlando was four), his determination to act led to Guildhall ("I needed a grounding in what I was going to do"), an agent and a growing reputation in theatre. It was at this point that he took the ubiquitous bit part in Casualty. "I was a self-mutilator," Bloom laughs. "He was quite a dark character. I had a skinhead, it was cool. You know, my ambitions were just to be working. I had every intention of getting involved in theatre, but Lord of the Rings came along. It wasn't like I was going to turn that down: 'Oh no, I think I'll go and do some theatre. I was like, 'Yeah!' "

Despite rumours about taking on Superman, post-Troy there is the chance for a rest. He wants to be involved in the closing ceremonies for Return of the King and to take his time in selecting the next role.

"I am getting more particular in the choices that I make. I'm trying to equip myself for all sorts of things that could come. It's a weird thing, you never imagine that it's going to happen. It almost feels cheeky. And I've been really lucky, but if you get the chance to swash and buckle, why not?" Why not, indeed.

Pirates of the Caribbean goes on general release on Aug 8

CV

Name: Orlando Bloom

Born: January 13, 1977, Canterbury, Kent

Parents: His father, Harold, was a South African lawyer and writer

Married: Rest easy girls, not yet. He is dating the actress Kate Bosworth

High point: Playing Legolas in Lord of the Rings

Strange but true: He is forever breaking bones due to his own clumsiness: "I'm rather accident prone, I have to admit."