Elf-made Man, canada.com, December 15, 2003
By Barrett Hooper, National Post
Everything Orlando Bloom knows about filmmaking he learned during the three
years he spent playing Legolas. 'It was, like, Here, have a career'
A rather suspect pair of bright yellow boxer shorts are sprouting above the
waistband of Orlando Bloom's blue jeans. Is this the undergarment of choice for
Hollywood's new favourite buckler of swashes?
There's little about Bloom to suggest his meteoric rise from The Lord of the
Rings' pointy-eared pretty boy to Hollywood's leading actor-at-arms was any more
thought out than today's wardrobe.
Because while his name may mean "famous through the land," as his mother told
him, it's a moniker more inclined toward gracing a perfume bottle than a movie
marquee. His face, framed by dark curls and handsome in the Byronic sense, seems
better suited to a Gap ad. And he's a rather tender-looking 5-feet-9 -- tall by
Hollywood standards but not quite the stature of Errol Flynn, the devilish
Tasmanian in whose footsteps Bloom appears to be following. Although he is
desperately trying to pack on about 20 pounds of muscle for his starring role in
the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven. "I just gotta eat loads because I haven't
got the right metabolism," he says.
Indeed, in person Bloom hardly seems capable of the heart-swooning feats of
derring-do performed by his on-screen alter egos.
Slouched in his chair at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, Bloom speaks in a
slightly scuffed English accent with flickers of his new-found So-Cal success --
he stretches a few extra syllables out of "cool," for example. A self-professed
adrenalin junkie, he gets a much greater rush from surfboards and bungee cords
than broadswords and bows and arrows, and he has the scars to prove it. "I've
broken my nose, both legs, my wrist, fingers, toes, some ribs when I fell off a
horse during filming in New Zealand, cracked my skull three times, and I broke
my back once in a fall and they thought I wouldn't walk again," he says, ticking
his injuries off on his fingers with gleeful matter-of-factness.
Nevertheless, if there's a dragon that requires vanquishing, Bloom's your
knight in celluloid armour.
Since making his film debut in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the
Ring two years ago, the 26-year-old played a worthy second fiddle to Johnny Depp
in this summer's box-office winner Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the
Black Pearl. And he has more historical adventures on the way: Kingdom of
Heaven, which goes into production next month; a Pirates of the Caribbean
sequel; and Troy, based on Homer's Iliad. In it Bloom plays Paris, the prince of
Troy, who steals the beautiful Helen away from her husband, the king of Sparta.
Brad Pitt plays Achilles, leading a thousand ships to bring her back.
"I love history, stepping back to inhabit a different time, and I really love
the costumes that are involved in acting; they're a really great aid, whether a
suit of armour or a robe, a bow and arrow, it all informs what you do. They're a
useful way of transforming, becoming different characters," says Bloom.
An imaginative child who quickly realized that "I could be Superman or I
could be Paul Newman in The Hustler or I could be Daniel Day Lewis's character
in The Last of the Mohicans," Bloom knew he wanted to be an actor from an early
At 16, he joined the National Youth Theatre in London, which led to his
attending London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Two days before
graduation, he landed a role future actors will grow up wanting to play --
Legolas Greenleaf, a vaguely androgynous warrior elf (typical dialogue: "There
is a fell voice on the air") out to help hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) save
Middle-earth in Peter Jackson's US$400-million adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's
fantasy novels. "This was three years in front of the camera with a cast and
crew that taught me everything there is about making films," says Bloom. "It
was, like, 'Here, have a career.' "
In addition to opening doors in Hollywood, the films -- the third and final
chapter, The Return of the King, opens Wednesday -- have in turn made Bloom a
bit of a fantasy figure himself. He receives a large pile of fan mail every day,
is the subject of a growing number of Web shrines, and while the other Rings
resident hottie, Viggo Mortensen, lands on the cover of grown-up magazines like
Vanity Fair, Bloom is more likely to be found on Teen People. Ironically, Bloom
didn't finish reading the Tolkien novels when he was 14 because he got
distracted by "girls and sports."
"This whole heartthrob status thing is only recently becoming more apparent
to me," says Bloom sheepishly. And he admits the attention makes him a bit
nervous. "It's all very flattering. I just hope it won't have an impact on the
films I get to make."
As a result, Bloom has found himself turning to his co-stars for
"It's been great to work with Johnny and Brad and pick their brains about how
they dealt with stuff like the fame element," he says, recalling a particular
Saturday night off in Malta during filming on Troy when he and Pitt hit the
town. "That was an experience, to see someone get properly mobbed. The whole
town came apart. He was so impeccable with his manner, the way he carried
himself. He was very gracious with everyone."
But in the end, Bloom sees it all as a rite of passage that will lead to more
freedom in his career.
"You don't really have choices until you get to a point where there's enough
people who are behind you and you have enough of an audience who are interested
to watch you, to have choices," Bloom explains. "If I've got the choice, I would
start to downscale a bit and do more human, dramatic, character-driven pieces
where you get to see less of a show and more of an actor."
Bloom has already made a couple of "mad choices," as he calls them, including
playing Heath Ledger's sidekick in Ned Kelly, about the Australian
outlaw-turned-folk hero, and a boxing milkman in the comedy The Calcium Kid.
He's also just wrapped the drama Haven, about a tax scandal in the Cayman
But he admits he's got "all my life to do contemporary work," as the
discussion returns to the swords-and-sandals epic Troy, due out next year.
"Putting on those togas and the short armoured skirts, you feel like you're
fighting for the fair Helen," he says with a hint of melodrama. And what kind of
underwear does a Trojan soldier wear? Bloom bats his eyes and deadpans, "A nice
tight pair of panties."