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Positively Blooming, 9TO5 Magazine (Australia), May 2005
typed by Adwena
by Holly Popcorn

He grabbed our attention as the blonde elf from Rivendell (this is incorrect, as all Lord of the Rings fans know that Legolas was from Mirkwood). Now he's buff and back from the gym playing a 12th Century hero who's come to save the day. Enter Orlando Bloom.

Orlando Bloom is a changed man. He's sitting down in a Los Angeles hotel room surrounded by promotional posters of himself in his new movie Kingdom of Heaven, an epic tale directed by Ridley Scott, in which Bloom is the main star. In the film, he plays Balian of Ibelin, a hero who must fight for what he believes in during the 12th Century.

"It doesn't really look like me does it?" He smiles as he glances at the poster of himself, dressed in a knight-like outfit while angrily thrusting a sword at the enemy.

"A lot of people are saying that I look more grown up and that makes me feel good. I did a lot of work to bulk up, though. I pushed weights and ate an awful lot of food. "I had to. I knew I had to be in shape for this role. It was the opportunity of a lifetime," he says. An opportunity of a lifetime because up until now, despite all his stardom and regularly being mentioned as one of the most gorgeous guys on the planet, the British-born actor hasn't had a lead role in a potential Hollywood blockbuster. Until now, that is.

Bloom burst onto the big screen in 2001 as the blonde-haired Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and followed up the breakthrough role with other movies such as Troy, Black Hawk Down and Pirates of the Caribbean. Kingdom of Heaven, however, has been his biggest challenge to date.

"Obviously I worked with Ridley Scott on Black Hawk Down, but he pretty much just threw me out of a helicopter. You know what I mean?" says the self effacing 28-year-old.

"It wasn't a lot to speak of. To be the guy on a Ridley Scott movie was something else. I read this script when I was flying back from Mexico. I'd just finished Troy and I'd played the cowardly young brother Paris, and I wasn't looking to do an epic or sword movie.

"I think they were looking for an older actor to begin with, but the timing was right. I read the script, thought it was amazing and told myself, 'I have to do this,'" he says. Playing a character that's the complete opposite to the cowardly Paris in Troy was one of the main reasons he wanted to take on the lead role in Kingdom of Heaven.

"It was a nice opportunity to play someone polar opposite to Paris. You know, he's a reluctant hero. It's nice to keep mixing things up and doing things that are different."

Asked which character he identifies with most and his answer is quick and emphatic. "I'd like to think I'm more like Balian than Paris. Like all people, though, I suppose we all have both sides. Balian, though, is a guy's guy and I like that," he says.

Whether he's a guy's guy or not, it cannot be doubted that Orlando Bloom has an enormous fan base. Google his name, for instance, and you get more than 3.2 million results. And it is this fame, it seems, that he's still getting used to.

"There's no guide on how to handle it. I'm just trying to be the best guy I can be an live my life in the most normal way possible," he says. Another way he deals with life's ups and downs is through Buddhism, which he discovered after making Kingdom of Heaven.

"First and foremost, it is a philosophy I find fascinating. It's very instructive and useful to understand the things that arise in life and helps you navigate some of the problems," he says. Not that he's complaining about his lot in life thus far, mind you.

Since finding super-stardom via Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bloom couldn't be happier with how its all panned out. Enduring a very public break-up with long-term girlfriend, actress Kate Bosworth, has not been easy, but he says he learned to take it all in his stride, and realises he's incredibly lucky to be in the position of Hollywood's golden boy.

"Ever since I was little, acting is what I have wanted to do. I know I'm in a privileged position and I'm not about to complain about any of it," he says. Even when talking about fans who hang on his every word and swoon over those deep brown eyes of his, he laughs it all off looking a little embarrassed by the attention he receives and he plays it down.

"The one thing I've come to realise is that when it comes to fame, it's all perception. It's not something that's natural because it's all about people's perceived ideas of who they think you are and projecting that onto you.

"If I can make someone's day by signing something for them, then I'm more than happy to do that. I just don't want to disappoint anyone or let anyone down."

In Full Bloom

Name: Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom

Born: 13 January 1977

Where: Canterbury, England

First Job: A clay trapper at a pigeon shooting range

Claim to Fame: Kiwi film maker Peter Jackson was in the audience of a London theatre where Bloom was performing in 1999. He waited until the end before asking the then 22 year old to audition for his new series of Lord of the Rings movies.