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Orlando Bloom — The Ultimate Lady's Man, First (Singapore), May 2004
scanned and typed by Seha

He is Hollywood's newest 'It' boy and his face alone has captivated hearts around the world. Orlando Bloom talks to FiRST about acting with Brad Pitt, playing the anti-hero (and vain) Paris, the Prince of Troy, and life after The Lord of the Rings.

What a whirlwind the last five years has been for Orlando Bloom. Plucked from drama school two days before graduation to play the lead in The Lord of the Rings, this Brit babe became the breakout star of that Oscar-winning trilogy. Then last year, he left the elf ears behind to sail the seas with Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean. And this year, Bloom is at the centre of action in Troy. “It is an epic movie. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Peter O'Toole are geniuses and I was lucky to work with them,” exclaims Bloom. “I also appreciated the rest of the team like Wolfgang Peterson who is a big director.”

Despite starring in the two biggest movies of 2003 and now one of the sure-fire hits of 2004, the 27-year old heartthrob is charmingly enthusiastic describing this new movie. “Troy is amazing, a movie like Gladiator, only about Greek heroes. I play Paris, a Prince of Troy who took Helen, the wife of Greek King Menelaus in 1193 B.C. Paris is the anti-hero – young and stupid – ignorant to the consequences of his actions. The Greeks, captained by Achilles (Pitt), declared war on the Trojans, who are in turn captained by my brother Prince Hector (Bana). Peter O'Toole is our dad Priam, the King of Troy.”

Bloom took the part of Paris just to be in the same movie as Brad. “It's a great ensemble, and I feel lucky to be part of that. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do a lot with Brad but I did quite a bit. He's a super cool guy.” The rising star was particularly impressed with the way he handled paparazzi. “We left the restaurant and walked down the street. Before you knew it there were flashbulbs popping and it felt like the whole of Malta was screaming and yelling,” recalls Bloom on their first night on location. “I was so impressed with the way Brad kept his composure.”

Bloom is still in awe of the caliber of work he is offered, not to mention his co-stars. “I've gotten to work with some of the best in the business — Viggo (Mortensen), Johnny (Depp on Pirates), Brad — and they all go about their craft in their own way. It's been really interesting to observe that and I've learned a lot from watching the people around me. Johnny may be one of the best looking guys onscreen but he morphs into character. I think Johnny has made some interesting choices and preserved his integrity. I admire that in an actor. And Brad is such a gentleman who, made courageous choices in his career. I learned a lot from all these people.”

Passing the torch to Hollywood's newest 'It' boy, Pitt gave Bloom great advice: “Find good scripts and go with your gut. And Johnny told me never to get seduced by the money and to never forget why I wanted to become an actor.” That love of acting is why Bloom made The Calcium Kid, a low budget 'mockumentary' about milkman turned professional boxer. “I had one of the most creative times making this movie. It's a small British comedy that was lot of fun to make,” recalls Bloom. “I'm sure it will do well and plenty of people will enjoy it.” Certainly, his legions of female fans will enjoy countless shots of Bloom in boxing trunks.

The lean six-footer, now sporting a mop of dark curls, is characteristically modest about his sex symbol status. “It's very flattering but beauty is in the eye of beholder. I don't feel any different now than a few years ago. I am much more interested in being an actor and growing. For now, I have to assume this phase, through which many young actors have to pass — roles of the good-looking lead, the pretty boy. Then, when time goes by, the moment will come when I will be able to choose more darker, more serious roles. Then I will be able to show that I am more than a nice face.”

Bloom is already hard at work on his next epic, the medieval adventure Kingdom of Heaven, playing another hero, Ul-Hul, a blacksmith who becomes a Knight and serves during the Crusades. Director Ridley Scott describes him as “the whitest Knight of all, the most reliable”, a description that could as easily be applied to Bloom. Just ask his Pirates director, Gore Verbinski: “Orlando is very much taking on the Errol Flynn role. I was a little nervous because of the kind of pop star quality of Orlando. But he has 'it', that wonderful onscreen presence.”

Though filming on Kingdom from the recent Oscars where The Return of the King swept the awards, Bloom stays in touch with his Ring cast mates. He proudly shows off his stylish wrist tattoo (the word 'nine' in Elvish) that marks him forever as one of the nine elite members of the Fellowship. He persuaded the others, including Sir Ian McKellen, to be tattooed as a permanent reminder of their strong bond. “I miss the fellowship in terms of the friendship we made, the connection we made with each other. You don't make friends like that easily. These are people who I will love and be friends with for life,” muses Bloom. He also misses New Zealand, his home away from home for two years. “It was real coming of-age period for me. I reconnected with nature and the environment. I did so much cool stuff while making The Lord of the Rings – snowboarding, skydiving, bungee jumping which is a lot more intense than skydiving,” says the adrenaline junkie.

Not surprisingly, this action mad has had his share of accidents. “I've broken my ribs, my nose, both my legs, my arm, my wrist, a finger, a toe and cracked my skull three times. I've slowed down recently, but I was a bit mad in my youth. I fell out a window a few years ago and broke my back. For four days, I faced the prospect of never being able to walk again. But after 12 days, I walked out of the hospital. I'd always been 'act first think later'. It can lead to an exciting spontaneity, but that was a big wake-up call.” Looking back, Bloom realises, “it was kind of a blessing in disguise because at that time everything in my life was going very well and I didn't appreciate it. Now, I look at everything that happens as a bit of bonus and I take care of myself, too.”

Life was not always so rosy for Bloom. He was only four when the man he knew as his father died unexpectedly. Harry Bloom was a reknowned lawyer and human rights activist in South Africa sent into exile because of his anti-apartheid beliefs. To Bloom, “Harry was a great man and it was as if he had done his job, then left the world”. His widowed mother ran a foreign language school to support Bloom and his older (by two years) sister Samantha. When he was 16, his mother shocked him with the news that her business partner, Colin Stone, was his biological father, but Bloom took it in his stride. “I am lucky I have two dads. I don't remember much of Harry but my mother speaks highly of him. As long as I can remember, Colin has been a good friend.”

His mother encouraged him to be creative as a way of coping with his dyslexia, a learning disability. “My mum would take us to the theatre and, watching those larger-than-life characters, I decided I want to be an actor.” He recalls his stage debut when he was 13 at the local village fete. “You do poetry reading, prose, that kind of thing. It gave me a sensitivity to language in terms of vocalizing it. I always used to get involved with the school plays. My teacher at school, who would take drama, would always give me interesting roles as a kid.”

At 17, he won a prestigious National Youth Theatre scholarship to study acting in London. A year later, after several stage and television appearances, the rising star made his film debut, albeit brief, turn as a prostitute in 1997's Wilde. Bloom surprised even himself at his next move. “I turned down other film roles to study at Guildhall (a prestigious drama school in London). I had an agent before I went in but I wanted more formal training.” Then, Bloom was cast in The Lord of the Rings. “I was over the moon,” recalls Bloom. “I was 22, I hadn't left drama school and it was like, boom, here have a career. It was like winning the lottery. I had 18 months of work lined up because all three films were done back to back.” Five years later, Bloom is still humbled by “the fact that you can be part of a movie that, I think, will still stand up in 40 or 50 years' time.”

This classically trained actor is candid about his motivation for making big budget movies like Troy and Pirates. “When I first got the script for Pirates, I was not really interested. I just wasn't in the headspace to think about doing a big American blockbuster. And then it was put to me in a different way. If I opened a door like this, it will ultimately put me in a marketplace where I can get projects made, like a film about photojournalist Dan Eldon who died covering the unrest in Somalia in 1993.” Bloom learnt firsthand about the tragedy that is Somalia back in 2000 while filming Black Hawk Down, a gritty war movie also directed by Ridley Scott.

For one of Hollywood's hottest hunks, his private life is surprisingly low-key and he intends to keep it that way. He has been with actress Kate Bosworth (Win a Date with Tad Hamilton) for two years, splitting time between her house in LA and his flat in London. “I like to keep my relationships separate from everything. Kate is a great girl but people to get to know everything,” he adds, “I feel like I'm married to my career at the moment. I'm aware of just trying to keep my eye on the ball. I get nervous when I'm not working.”

After Kingdom of Heaven, the busy boy goes straight into back-to-back sequels for Pirates of the Caribbean, so it will be a while before he has any down time to worry. In his increasingly rare free time, Bloom takes time to reflect on his journey from unknown to superstar in just five short years. “I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and enjoy it all for what it is. I know you can be up one minute and drop the next, so I'm trying to maintain a steady course so that I have some longetivity.”