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The Elf Pirate, Starlog (US), November 2003
by Bill Warren
typed and scanned by Kira for ka-Bloom

Orlando Bloom recently finished his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and was, as it happened, the first of the trilogy's major stars to wrap everything up. "I did a fight sequence with Gimli [John Rhys-Davies]," he says. "It was really sad, hugely emotional. Pete [Jackson, Rings' director] got up and gave a speech, and everyone came along to the set because I was the first person to finish. He said some amazing things. I was really lucky."

On reason why Bloom looks so different in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl than he does as Legolas in Lord of the Rings is because he wears a long, sleek blond wig in Rings, but sports his own locks in Pirates. "I wore it [for] the last time in New Zealand, and I'm hoping that I get [to keep] one," Bloom says. "They gave me the clapper-board from my last shot in the movie. I'll be getting my bow and arrow, and they cut together a clip of stuff [for me], which was really amazing."

The actor thinks that the third Rings film will be the best. "Let's face it," he comments, "the last third of a movie is always the best, right? It's the rounding-up, the conclusion. This is a fantastic story, and it comes to a fantastic conclusion -- we know that from reading the books. The work Peter put in, he's not letting it slip now."

Though the first two Ring entries were nominated for Best Picture Oscars, neither won the big prize. Bloom hopes that the third time's the charm. "I think it deserves Best Picture and Best Director," he says with enthusiasm. "Peter really deserves it, and I hope he gets the nod. The work he put into these movies...all the effects stuff seems seamless. I know it's not the norm [to honor SF/fantasy films], but this is such an incredible feat and achievement."

Being a part of the Rings Fellowship has helped Bloom become one of Hollywood's rising starts. "Now I'm getting work, like Pirates, Troy, The Calcium Kid and Ned Kelly. It's all great [material]. I'm trying to put myself in a place where I can start to make choices, be appealing to directors and make movies that I want to do."

Bloom's next major project is playing Paris in Wolfgang Petersen's big-scale production of Troy. In addition to Bloom, the promising cast includes his Fellowship colleague Sean Bean as Odysseus, Brad Pitt as Achilles, Eric (The Hulk) Bana as Hector, Diane Kruger as Helen (the face that launched a thousand ships), Brian (X2) Cox as Agamemnon, Peter O'Toole as Priam, Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus and Julie Christie as Thetis.

Bloom's role is "kind of cool, a bit of an anti-hero, very different to the obvious hero of Will [Turner of Pirates] or Legolas. It was a no-brainer decision [to sign on for Troy]. I feel very lucky to be involved. I don't get to do that much with Brad. I shoot him in the heel at the end, but aside from that, we don't do much on screen together. Brad is such a lovely man and a great actor. I admire him. He has really put himself out there."

Right now, Bloom has entered his "heartthrob" period: teen-girl magazines featuring his pictures and websites devoted to him are springing up all over the place. Because of this, he was especially glad to work with Johnny Depp on Pirates and then Pitt, both of whom survived the teen-idol stage of their careers.

"In a way, [Johnny and Brad] created a heartthrob thing, and then they went against it," Bloom remarks. "You kind of have to do that; it's like a rite of passage. You have to create yourself to be somebody, and then you get the chance to go against it. Legolas was a great opener for me because he's an Elf, so you can't quite figure him out. It's a pretty intense time for me right now. I'm flattered and it's all very nice, but I'm trying to [establish myself] as an actor. Maybe I'll just go and do some theater for a while."

Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent, England, and moved to London when he was 16 to more seriously pursue a career as an actor. "The actors I saw in movies, on TV, in theaters, even street performers -- they could be multiple, different characters," he recalls. "It's great. You can be an action hero, James Dean, all these different people. I've been a pirate, a bush ranger, a boxer and an Elf."

However, on his way to fame and fortune, Bloom ran into a teensy little obstacle: he broke his back. "Some friends had a roofed terrace that needed to be opened, but the door was warped by the weather," Bloom explains. "It was on the landing below their apartment, and it needed to be kicked open from the outside. I could have jumped straight across from the window, but instead I got onto this drainpipe thing and fell.

"I couldn't move. I couldn't walk. I had no strength in my legs. I crushed one of my vertebrae, scratched a few of the others. I bruised my spinal cord, but I didn't tear it or anything. It was all such a mess that a normal X-ray wasn't cutting it for the doctors. They did a neuro scan and saw that they could operate, but they weren't sure how successful it would be. They operated, and I had this miraculous recovery. I managed to walk out of the hospital -- on crutches -- like 12 days after I had the accident. They thought I would be on my back for at least six months. I couldn't remember how to walk at first, and so I had to relearn that."

He also learned a valuable lesson. Once a daredevil with a streak of youthful invincibility, Bloom is "now more mellow than I was before. I still like to ride horses and do things like that, but I just approach everything in a much more grounded, matter-of-fact, less flighty manner.

"An accident like that really does change you," Orlando Bloom offers. "I'm not in physically unlimited shape. I have to keep working on my back. I thought about buying a motorbike, but I've decided against it. I broke my leg on a motorbike. I don't need to do it again."