One Big Adventure, The Sunday Post (Scotland), April 4, 2004
Orlando Bloom’s career so far has been just
like the film that made his name, as Darryl Smith finds out.
AFTER graduating from the Guildhall School of
Music & Drama, Orlando originally auditioned for the part of Faramir in the
much-anticipated trilogy of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the
He failed to get the part but director Peter Jackson saw
something that he liked in the young man from Kent and a few weeks later offered
him the part of the blond-locked elf, Legolas.
The role propelled Orlando
into the realms of fantasy — but not just on screen. The object of many a
schoolgirl crush, Orlando is one of the most downloaded men on the Internet,
earns a reputed $5 million per picture (something he denies), and has been
called the modern day Errol Flynn.
Given his meteoric rise, the
27-year-old could be forgiven for walking on air. But, in fact, Orlando is just
glad that he can walk at all following a horrific accident that doctors thought
would leave him paralysed.
Back in 1998, aged 21, Orlando fell three
storeys from a rooftop terrace and broke his back. He required an immediate
operation that, if unsuccessful, would have left him in a wheelchair for the
rest of his life.
Thankfully it was a success and Orlando defied medical
prognosis by walking out of hospital just 12 days after his fall.
told I might not walk again,” he explains, “and for four days I was
contemplating that as a serious likelihood. Then they operated, and I walked out
of the hospital within two weeks.
“I have to admit, I’m rather
accident-prone. As well as my back, I’ve broken my ribs, my nose, both my legs,
my arm, my wrist, a finger and a toe and cracked my skull three
It’s the sort of injury list you’d expect from a boxer rather
than an actor so it’s fitting that Orlando’s next role is exactly that in The
Calcium Kid, which is released at the end of this month.
plays Jimmy Connolly, a milkman and amateur boxer who is thrust into the
spotlight when the British champion breaks his hand trying to knock him out
during a sparring session.
A substitute is needed for the approaching
bout with the world champ and who better than the hard-boned Calcium
The star describes the film as “halfway between Billy Elliot
and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”.
isn’t a very good boxer, that’s the comedy of it. He’s a milkman first and
foremost and boxing is something he does to feel part of a family that he
doesn’t have at home.
“I did, however, do some boxing and some training
for it so I could at least hold up my fists with the gloves on, which are quite
“I have a whole new respect for boxers, I can tell you that,
because it’s not an easy sport. It’s very demanding physically.
“I took a
few knocks but it was more interesting trying to punch somebody back. It’s not a
pleasant thing to do, trying to hit somebody with your full force. I was a bit
of a playground scrapper as a kid but I grew out of that pretty quickly, thank
goodness, and realised the error of my ways.
“Frank Bruno and Chris
Eubank appear in the film as cameos and it was a real honour to meet them
because, as a kid, I watched both of them fight.
“Boxing is one of those
event sports that people really get behind in the same way that big football
games have that wow factor.
“Chris was his fantastically eccentric self.
The director, Alex De Rakoff, had seen him make a speech to young fighters and
asked him if he could do that same speech for the film. Chris came in with a
completely different speech and did that instead!”
The public affection
for high profile figures like Bruno and Eubank is something Orlando is having to
get used to himself now he’s moving up the Hollywood pecking order.
followed up his Lord of the Rings success with a role in last summer’s
surprise hit, Pirates of the Caribbean, alongside Johnny Depp, and later
this year he will be on screen with Brad Pitt in the blockbuster
Then he’ll take on the lead role in Kingdom of
Heaven, directed by Sir Ridley Scott and currently filming in
“It’s my first leading role on a global scale,” says Orlando
nervously, “but it feels right that I’m making that step in a sword-fighting
movie, as that’s what I’ve become known for.
“I did one film that didn’t
involve sword-fighting so I’m going back to that again now.
thought about being famous when I was doing my training. I just wanted to be an
actor and the idea that the rest of it would come wasn’t something I could
contemplate because, when you’re starting out, you never know how it’s going to
“That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to work with Johnny
Depp and Brad Pitt. They’re great role models for anyone, and especially for a
young actor. It was also a learning curve to see how they handled the fame
“When I was in Malta with the Troy production we had a
cast dinner and as I left the restaurant with Brad, what felt like the whole of
Malta descended on the guy! It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever
“But it was interesting the way he handled it with incredible
poise, humility and grace. He had a bodyguard, which is something that goes with
the territory because people tend to get a bit frenetic around him, but it was
eye-opening to see someone handle that situation.
“I do find the whole
celebrity thing a bit unnerving at times, because if somebody jumps in front of
you and flashes a camera in your face you are going to feel uncomfortable — not
many people like having their photograph taken.”
Orlando is equally
guarded when talking about his private life. He grew up believing that Harry
Bloom, the famous anti-apartheid campaigner, was his father. Harry died when
Orlando was four and, at 13, he discovered that his real father was, in fact,
Colin Stone, a close family friend and his legal guardian.
So Orlando was
relieved that he was unrecognisable in Legolas’s blond wig, which helped keep
his anonymity for longer than he could have expected.
But he was much
more himself for Pirates, playing the romantic lead. Cue screaming girls
“It’s very weird because people approach you but they’re so
nervous that you have to do all the work. They just stand frozen in front of
you! It’s one of the things that I’m having to come to terms with so that it
doesn’t freak me out. It can be overwhelming and a lot of people go off the
rails and get angry because it is an intrusion.
“One of the weirdest
things to happen was having my mum fly over to New Zealand for the premiere of
The Return of the King with a big picture of me as Legolas on the side of
“The Lord of the Rings cast is on stamps, coins, the
lot, in New Zealand. For the premiere we met the Prime Minister and then
travelled through the cheering streets of Wellington in open top Mustangs. It
“I’ll be saying I’m grateful to Peter Jackson for the next
fifty years for choosing me for The Lord of the Rings because he placed
me in an arena that has put me ahead of the rest of my class.”
three films all due out by the year’s end and a sequel to Pirates of the
Caribbean planned for next year, it looks like Orlando’s intending to stay