His Blooming Career, The New Jersey Record, July 6, 2003
by Amy Longsdorf
Lest there be any doubt that Britain's Orlando Bloom is primed and ready to
begin his conquest of America, just check out his list of upcoming movies. On
Wednesday, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" docks in
In December comes "The Return of the King," the final chapter
in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. And next year, Bloom plays featured roles in
"Ned Kelly" with Heath Ledger and "Troy" with Brad Pitt.
Entertainment Weekly is calling Bloom one of the "It" Boys of
"That is a huge honor," the actor says, with his tongue planted
firmly in his cheek. "Massive. What is 'It,' though?'"
Whatever 'It' is,
Bloom's got it. Right out of drama school, he landed the role of the elf Legolas
in "The Lord of the Rings." Afterwards, he was cast in Ridley Scott's "Black
Hawk Down" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" alongside Johnny Depp and Geoffrey
Ready or not, Bloom is about to blossom.
"Orlando is a movie
star waiting to happen," says "Ned Kelly" director Gregor Jordan. "He's going to
be huge because he's a good actor and he has incredible presence. There's a
reason why girls go crazy for him. He's in the long tradition of guys like James
Dean and Russell Crowe. There's just something about him that makes people want
to sit in the dark and watch him on the movie screen."
Bloom is a head-turner. But being the center of attention is not his style. You
get the feeling, meeting Bloom in New York, that he would prefer to go
unnoticed. Soft-spoken and polite, he does his best to hide in plain
For nearly half of an interview, he tries to steer the discussion
back to Depp. "He just kind of took a character that reads, on the page, like an
average, swashbuckling pirate and creates a magical, hilarious, drunken,
sea-legged Keith Richards type," says an admiring Bloom, 26.
amazes me. He was so courageous with that role. It's a Disney movie, and he just
put himself out there, do you know what I mean? It could've gone just all wrong,
but he bit the bullet and took it all the way home."
The more Bloom raves
about Depp, it becomes clear that the young actor's admiration of the former "21
Jump Street" pinup goes deeper than a co-star's respect.
Depp is Bloom's
role model. Like Bloom, Depp started out as a teen heartthrob. But once "21 Jump
Street" went off the air, he refused to be pigeonholed as a matinee idol and
managed to metamorphose into a quirky off-Hollywood icon.
Bloom is hoping
to follow in Depp's footsteps. "You know, the heartthrob thing - I hope that it
won't stop me from making more interesting choices, because that's what I intend
to try and do," he proclaims. "I kind of feel like there's a certain rite of
passage that you have to go through like Johnny did with '21 Jump
"This heartthrob thing was created around him, but now he's able
to do whatever he likes, and people love to work with him. I'm hoping that I'll
get the same opportunity."
For the time being, Bloom is trying to ride
out "the heartthrob thing" with grace and style.
"I talk to my friends
and family all the time," he says when asked how he stays grounded. "I try and
hold it together. I don't know, man, I'm figuring it all out. It's really
"Sometimes, I still can't quite believe it. It's a weird time for
me right now, but I feel really lucky for the opportunity to work, and that's
all I really ever wanted to do, just to work."
Bloom calls his decision
to participate in "Pirates of the Caribbean" a "no-brainer" even though the
movie was based on a Disney theme park ride and was produced by Jerry
Bruckheimer, the man responsible for such stinkers as "Armageddon," "Con Air,"
and "Kangaroo Jack."
Budgeted at $125 million, the Gore
Verbinski-directed swashbuckler pits the flashy Jack Sparrow (Depp) and a
hardworking blacksmith (Bloom) against a bloodthirsty pirate (Rush) who's
kidnapped a comely lass ("Bend it Like Beckham's" Keira Knightley) with an
ability to break a supernatural spell.
"I grew up playing pirates in the
garden," recalls Bloom. "I'd watch pirate movies every Sunday afternoon on TV,
and really enjoy them. I loved the boat-to-boat battles and all the swinging on
The actor's journey to the big screen began when he left his
hometown of Canterbury, England, to attend London's National Youth
"I realized those larger-than-life actors that I saw on TV, in
the movies, in the theater, even street performers, could be multiple
characters, and I thought that was just great," says Bloom, whose father, South
African writer and anti-apartheid activist Harry Bloom ("Transvaal Episode"),
died when Orlando was 4 years old.
"You can be an action hero, you can be
a Jimmy Dean, you can be those characters. Already, I've been, like, a pirate, a
Ranger, a boxer, and an elf."
After graduation, Bloom joined the
well-respected Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he trained for three
years. He had just turned 20 when a careless accident - he was trying to kick
open a friend's window while hanging from a drainpipe - nearly paralyzed
"I remember I couldn't move," he says. "I didn't know it at the
time, but they really didn't think I would walk again."
Bloom bruised his
spinal cord and crushed one of his vertebrae. Amazingly, he was able to hobble
out of the hospital 12 days after the accident.
"I couldn't remember how
to walk," he says. "I literally couldn't remember whether to do toe, ball, heel
or heel, ball, toe. It was bizarre."
Bloom remains physically active -
he's an avid horseback rider - but he doesn't take any more foolish
"I thought about buying a motorbike recently, and I decided
against it. I don't need to break any more bones. It's, like, everything is
going great. Why throw something like that in the mix and jeopardize it
Everything has been going great for Bloom ever since he won the
role of Legolas in the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. About the only downside
to the experience was having to eventually say goodbye to director Peter Jackson
and members of the cast and crew. Once reshoots for the concluding "Return of
the King" were completed, Bloom says there was a celebration to end all
"The stunt guys did a hucker, which is a Maori kind of pole
dance," recalls the actor wistfully. "Peter said some amazing things. It was
really sad and hugely emotional.
"This is going to be the best movie of
the three. It's the rounding up, the conclusion. And this is a fantastic story,
and it comes to a fantastic conclusion. The work that Peter already put in -
he's not letting it slip now."