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Early Bloomer, Flaunt Magazine (US), Summer Reign 2003
By Tami Mnoian
typed by Mel of The Bloom Room

An English professor once defined the sublime with an analogy of physical proportions: Imagine standing at the edge of a canyon knowing you’re about to fall.  That feeling of awe and terror just before you drop is the sublime.  It is indescribable, the weird space of suspension between two worlds.  Orlando Bloom is currently experiencing the sublime, but his canyon is the wide and uncertain chasm of Hollywood.  It’ll either swallow him whole or send him flying.  With two movies opening this year-the seafaring adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and the finale to The Lord Of The Rings, The Return of the King-and three others in the works, Bloom is gaining some well deserved altitude.

Apparently Malta is the new Ibiza “It was written in a newspaper in England that if you’re going on holiday this summer, why not go to Malta because Brad Pitt’s filming there.  And you might bump into him,” Bloom laughs.  The 26-year old, tan and jet-lagged has just arrived after a 13-hour plane ride from Malta to London to Los Angeles.  He’s been up since six a.m., and though he should be ready for a nap the kid can’t sit still.  Bloom is all smiles and flavors his speech with enthusiastic You Know What I Means.   There’s certain energy about him, and integrity.  Even when asked a question that he’s not exactly thrilled about, Bloom just kind of hunkers down, grins, bears it, and answers truthfully.  He’s currently in the middle of filming Troy (based on the Trojan War and “the grand love story” between Paris and Helen) on the small island nation of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean.

“I guess it’s just sort of a big party island,” he debates.  “Not all of it. I’m just being so general, but in and around the area we’re working, it’s party central.  But the countryside is beautiful and I have a great house.  It’s a bit of a sanctuary, so I’m really enjoying that.”  Bloom’s been in Malta almost a month now, having a good time working alongside Pitt, Eric Bana (The Hulk), Julie Christie, and Peter O’Toole on a story that’s been around forever.  It’s quite a cast and quite the production, but the actor seems to have found a home tackling projects of such scale.  “I know, it’s mad,” he says. “I am getting much more comfortable. I was doing a scene [with O’Toole], and to be standing there not feeling as petrified as I would have been a couple of years ago…Do you know what I mean?  I wasn’t as intimidated,” he says with conviction.  “I felt more comfortable to do what I needed to do, and not let my fear or anything get in the way of the work.  That was kind of a nice moment.  It’s fantastic to work with these people.  And then to be able to try and take that into what I’m doing.  They raise the bar.  That’s a new target to aim for.”

Originally from Canterbury, England, Bloom’s first taste of acting was reading poetry as a child, like the work of Robert Frost, at local festivals.  “I don’t know why she wanted [my sister and I] to do it.  But it was great. I loved it.  My mom has always encouraged us to be creative.  And she would have people come around and teach us art and poetry and stuff like that.”  The dramatic readings eventually led to school plays.  At 16, Bloom moved to London to hone his acting skills at the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.  Of leaving home a few years earlier than most, he says, “I felt good about it.  I’ve kind of always been a bit ahead of myself and I was ready to leave.  I felt like London was the place to be.”  He then went on to study at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  These years proved to be profoundly maturing for him professionally and personally, while laying a stable and necessary foundation.  “I needed it.  I needed grounding.  I needed an education in an industry that I wanted to be working in.  I learned to work with a company of actors and to work with different texts and have an understanding and an approach to the work with a bit more; I hope integrity than I would have done otherwise.  That’s probably what kept me round in the head, getting the chance to mess it up in the safety of an environment where it’s all about education and growing and learning.”   While in school, Bloom performed everything from Chekhov to Klaus Mann’s Mephisto to circus acts to mimicking the movements of lizards.  “For one of my first exercises, we went to the zoo to study animals and the teacher asked, ‘What animal do you want to be?’ I thing I wanted to be an ape, but she said, ‘No, you’re going to be a lizard because you need to learn to be still and find the stillness.”

While Bloom still possesses all of the fire he had as a child, there is a difference between him then and now.  “I think I was quite loud then, and I think I’m less loud now-which is kind of bizarre.  I was quite kind of outgoing in a whole different way. I was like, Nothing is stopping me. Had my life in the goal and I was going for it.  [Now, I’m] learning to be comfortable just doing nothing.  I guess the difference is I’m trying to move forward in a way that keeps me growing and evolving as a person, as opposed to just doing it for the sake of doing it, and doing it just to get to a goal.  It’s like the journey is the destination.  I’m trying to learn all those clichés. No that they’re clichés but…” he trails off.

As the story goes, Bloom was days away from graduating Guildhall when he won the role of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed elf, Legolas, in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. “It was such a special experience,” he smiles.  “It was such a special job.  All the motivation behind it felt right.  The project has a lot of integrity and it definitely hits a chord with a lot of people.”  Three movies filmed in the span of 14 months, did he ever wonder if director Peter Jackson could pull it all off?  “No, not once,” he says without hesitation.  “Now that I’ve worked on all these other films, I can’t believe he did pull it off.  But at the time it was my first film.  I just thought, Oh, this is what happens.  So I never doubted him, but now I’m just amazed.”

Technically, Bloom’s first film role was a small one-liner in the Oscar Wilde bio, Wilde, but The Lord of the Rings is where he learned the ropes of filmmaking.  In The Two Towers, when the fellowship is split up and the friends are forced to overcome individual obstacles, Bloom shared significant screen time with Viggo Mortensen (who plays Aragorn). “He was such an incredible role model for me and such an incredible human being.  Not just as an actor, but he was a bit of a hero for me.  He was amazing at what he did and I learned by watching him” Set to open in December; this third and final installment will close a significant chapter in Bloom’s life and career.

After the marathon of Rings shoot, Bloom went on to film Black Hawk Down.  He then shot Gregor Jordan’s Ned Kelly, with Heath Ledger and Geoffrey Rush.  After that, he returned home for six weeks, but not to rest.  Instead he took on his first lead role in The Calcium Kid, and independent project directed by his friend, Alex De Rakoff. The comedy, Bloom’s first one on the big screen, marks a departure from his previous dramatic roles.  He plays Jimmy, a milkman turned boxer who gets a chance at the middleweight title.  “I wanted to do something light and show another side of myself,” he says.  Is he funny? His friends will say he’s a bit of a clown.

Bloom went straight from The Calcium Kid to Pirates of the Caribbean.  Directed by Gore Verbinski, staring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Bloom, it’s a blustering high-seas adventure with all the requisite pirate fixings-swords, ghosts and a damsel in distress.  Inspired by the spirit of Disney’s amusement park ride, Pirates looks to be good summer fun with just enough humor to keep it light, but with plenty of swordplay and suspense.  Bloom plays blacksmith Will Turner.  “So it’s a bit fun.  In very basic form, there’s a girl, there’s a boy, there’s a rogue pirate, but he’s a good pirate, and there’s a bad pirate.”   Captain Barbossa (Rush) has stolen Jack Sparrow’s (Depp) ship and kidnapped the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley, Bend It Like Bekham), so Jack and Will team up to claim what’s theirs.  “He wants his boat.  I want the girl. We’re all chasing something and it all kicks off and is great fun.”  Pirates gave Bloom a chance to work with Rush once more, and Bob Anderson, the sword master from the Rings shoot.  Having experience with a blade gave the actor a head start.  “You get used to it.  It’s sort of a muscle memory thing that you just kind of pick up,” he says. “You learn spatial awareness.”

Will Turner is all heart and Bloom inhabits the character with an earnestness and ease. “One of my lines is, ‘I practice three hours a day so when I meet a pirate, I can kill him.’ I say that to Johnny and I’m supposed to be very good with a sword.  Johnny’s character sort of toys with me and that irritates me, who’s really straight down the line and knows every move.”  Bloom says about his character’s knowledge of the rules of engagement. “But Johnny’s going, ‘I’m a pirate,’ and he’s’ slapping me on the bum with his sword, running circles around me.”

Just as Viggo Mortensen was someone Bloom looked up to, Depp was also a role model.  “I’d be doing a scene with him and the writer from the beginning said, ‘You guys have these great characters to be working with because it’s almost as if the whole time you’re looking at him.” And in terms of the context of the character, Will is long at him going, ‘What the fuck is this guy doing?’ But actually, it’s me looking at [Johnny] going, I can’t believe I’m doing this…and I loved that.  I always felt so privileged to be sharing the screen with him.”

Bloom is gracious and thankful for his career’s good fortune. “I could be out of work, struggling to make rent, living in London, and not doing much. I’ve just had a different path. It is mad. It is mad,” he says again. “It does sort of freak me out a bit.”  Bloom’s just purchased a place in London, though it seems he won’t be back to the British Isles any time soon.  He’s working at a manic pace, which suites him.  Pirates opens July 9, and being the big Jerry Bruckheimer-produced extravaganza that it is, the film will officially catapult the actor deeper into the public eye.  He sounds excited yet cautious about what is to come.  He’s trying to stay grounded in a business that isn’t.  Recently, while having and after dinner drink with Brad Pitt in Malta, Bloom experienced a taste of the fame and attention that is sure to befall him.  “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he says, amazed.  “Like the whole town was coming up to him, grabbing him, trying to touch him, or shake his hand.  And he says to me ‘Just keep moving, don’t stop. Just keep moving on.’ He was really gracious in that situation.”

In an interview just before The Fellowship of the Ring premiered, Bloom wondered how or what would change in the time between the first film opening and the third one.  Musing on the last few years of his life, he says, “I don’t think I’m completely different.  I’ve worked more and that’s helped me evolve.  It’s a very unreal world.  At the moment I’m just trying to keep that real and not get caught up in all of the stuff that surrounds this industry.  You know, there’s so much stuff that goes around and I’m not really interested.  You’ve got to get to a point where you go, Okay, but you can’t sort of dodge it.  You can’t opt out because where’s the courage in that?

“When you get a certain amount of opportunity you have to take that on.  So I’m in this sort of balancing act-be courageous and do the work and put myself out there and get it right.  Just enough to get it right, but not so much that I’m lost in all the stuff that surrounds what I’m trying to do.  Does that sound like a lot of rubbish?

No, Orlando, it just sounds honest.