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Return of the King Press Junket, chud.com, December 5, 2003

And we're back with round 2 from the massive Return of the King junket at the Four Seasons a couple of weeks back in Beverly Hills.  My "tape problems" have been aided by some others in my room, so it looks like, yes, I'll be able to present the full junket.  Thank fucking Yorb.

Today we're chatting with the co-writer/producer/director of the film, Peter Jackson himself, Sir Ian McKellen aka Gandalf and the hot young rising star out of the film, Orlando Bloom who, of course, plays Legolas. 

Finally today, we have the heartthrob of heartthrobs, Orlando Bloom who has spent a lot of time - due to Pirates of the Caribbean - with SJR's future lady-love, Keira Knightley. But...I don't hold that against him.

The first thing we asked him if he thought this was how his career was going to turn out following the films as he's in such a different spot now. "No, you can't - who's to say how it's going to all pan out, you know what I mean?" Bloom enthused. "But I'm very grateful to be working and doing all of this stuff, this great stuff. I think what's most fortunate to me about having worked on Lord of the Rings is it put me, it thrust me straight into this forum, this great forum which, if I'd come into the movie business on any other movie, it would have been very different. I would have had to work my way up to this level of work that I'm getting and working in now. Whereas I think because Lord of the Rings was such a critical and financial and in so many ways a huge success. I think it sort of put me a few rungs up the ladder. It gave me that much of a kick-start, a jump-start. And I think that's been great."

As for whether he feels like he's the "overnight sensation" that broke because of the films instead of, say, Astin or someone else, Bloom demures. "I don't feel like it's been overnight, but it's just because with the wig and stuff," Bloom joked. "It's just such an ensemble, I feel like the star of this movie is this movie and what Peter Jackson has done in creating it. You know, Peter Jackson is the star of this movie. I think the talent and all the cast were just the players that helped bring this story to a conclusion. But it's definitely helped me and I'm really grateful for it. But like, in terms of an instant thing, it's like, you know I had the blond wig to disguise me and, you know, it's part of an ensemble. It definitely threw me into the big leagues, though, in terms of being able to meet the right people and audition for good roles and hopefully get good roles. And I'm happy with it. It sort of, it raised the bar, in simple terms."

As Legolas was pretty much instantly the favorite to boys and girls alike, we asked him about why he felt "Legy" had that appeal. "I think that, because of the movie, it put us all into that category," Bloom suggested. "Legolas is kind of the boy of the group. I mean, Frodo is the ringbearer and everything. But Legy is kind of like, he's kind of a safe place, you know? He's blonde and he's, you know, an action elf. And elves are angelic spirits and he's got this timeless, kind-of androgynous quality to him. And I'm really grateful for the fans. I'm really glad that they picked up on Legolas, you know what I mean? If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing, because I really think the fact that they're going to the movie is great."

We next asked if, while re-watching the trilogy, were there any moments where Bloom just wanted to go back and re-do something he feels he fucked up. "Oh, fuck yeah," Bloom exclaimed. "Definitely, yes. I mean, that's why I'm so grateful to Peter as well, because I think about stuff that I shot that didn't make it, and instead of thinking, 'Oh man, I wish that would have made it,' I think, 'Well, I'm sure I probably dropped it.' I mean, Pete really understood who Legy was, you know what I mean? I think he captured who all these characters were. And Legolas, in the book, is very present. He's just a very present part of the fellowship who's accuracy with a bow gives him that assassin-like quality and that protector-like quality. That kind of overseer - he never sleeps; he's always the one awake checking to see if everyone's safe. Pete got that and gave me that, and that's what the character is. And I'm really grateful for that."

In Return of the King, Legolas has a quite showy moment in the Battle of Pellinor Fields where he takes down a rather large creature on his own, something that was shot in the re-shoots. We asked Bloom if this was due to the fan response to his shield-sliding in Two Towers. "Well, Pete loved the response to the sliding the stairs on the shield, he loved the hopping onto the horse and, in the first movie, running over the cave troll and taking a pop at his head," Bloom admitted. "He loved the way the audience responded to that stuff, those moments. And so, he wanted to top it. That's all Pete, man - that boyish lust for life. He's got such a great appetite for it all and he just wanted it to be bigger and better. What better way to do it than bringing down an elephant with such style? I mean, it's certainly a touch of craft that goes on there. I basically spent three days on, like, three thousand sandbags that had been piled up creatively to make the ass-end of an elephant, and then they add a rig on the top with the stunt guy so I get to fight on top of the stunt guy. There were wires and I was wired and swinging around on wires and, you know, climbing up the arrows. And then I had a very serious conversation with my digital double to make sure he knew exactly what his motivation was (laughs)/ Pete creates. Things come out of his imagination."

Next up, we asked if Bloom had a particular favorite Legolas moment in the films. "You know when the Fellowship came over the crest of the hill, in the first movie?" Bloom asked. "They come over one-by-one. I just loved seeing the Fellowship come over the mountain. And I loved Legy being a part of the Fellowship. You know, we come between two boulders, and then it finishes with Aragorn, and Sean Bean's there as Boromir and everyone - the whole Fellowship come over the hill one by one, and just to see Legy in and amongst the Fellowship, as a part of the Fellowship - I loved that moment. I just thought, 'Wow, that's the Fellowship.' You know what I mean? You just see them, individually, and yet sort of at once. I loved that."

Finally, we asked Bloom if all the different characteristics of Legolas were stuff he pulled from the book or, like some of the actors and their characters, they were already pretty similar to. "No, but it's all within me," Bloom joked. "No, it was much more of a leap for me. But I found that all the hobbits were joking around on the set and having a good time, laughing, joking and playing around, and I'd be like, trying to hold myself and keep myself kind of focused and together. Because at all times, I wanted to be engaged and it's quite difficult to maintain that sort of engaged presence when you're not really saying anything or doing too much. But I wanted to maintain that sense so that you felt his presence, because that's what it is in the book as well. So he is very different from me and yet, I think that I kind of found parts of him here, within me. I just though about immortality and what it would mean to live forever and how that would, you know, create a meditative sort of state that you would be in. I thought about samurais for movement, because I thought their physical movement was so graceful. It was a great character to inhabit for that length of time, and you kind of hope that your characters rub off on you a bit. And I think Legy has definitely changed the way I live my life. The experience of being in New Zealand changed the way I live my life. I kind of was coming of age a bit. I had a coming of age time on the project. I grew up; I had a whole new understanding of what nature meant to me and the environment. I suddenly was reconnected, because I'm from the country originally, from outside of London. I've lived in London in a very urban environment, for like six years, which is quite intense. And it just reconnected me with nature. We're creating this future forest thing, which is a fellowship forest, which is basically, there's this thing called Future Forest and actors and musicians and people in the public eye are getting involved in this company called Deep Forest because they can become carbon-neutral, which means that, however many planes they fly and whatever kind of car they drive, the plant enough trees to create enough, to make them carbon-neutral. I think that's a great thing to do and it sort of made me aware of that. So, it's that sort of thing, you know."