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Exclusive Interview: Orlando Bloom Hello! #776 (UK), August 5, 2003
typed by Rashas, scans by Sarah and Penny

Obsessed with acting since he was a boy, Orlando Bloom talks about his big break in The Lord of the Rings and the swashbuckling fun on the set of his new Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean. Interview: Mary Barrett.

Orlando Bloom bursts into the suite of a Beverly Hills hotel in a flurry of wiry limbs and 26-year-old energy, wild black hair flying every which way and a beaming smile splitting his handsome face from ear to ear.

He has every reason to smile. Obsessed with acting since he was a small boy growing up in Canterbury, he now commands 2 million a film and qualifies as a bona fide heart-throb after his performance in the hit new film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

It was only two years ago that Orlando first came to public notice as the flaxen-haired Elven warrior Legolas in the first installment of the acclaimed screen adaptation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He landed the part pretty much as soon as he graduated from London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama and he has barely paused since.

He co-stars with Heath Ledger in Ned Kelly (which is released in the U.K. in September), reprised his role as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and now teams up with Johnny Depp in the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean, already breaking box office records in the U.S. and due for release in the U.K. in August.

Orlando plays gallant young adventurer Will Turner, who enlists the help of Depp's rogue pirate Jack Sparrow to save governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann, played by 18-year-old Doctor Zhivago and Bend It Like Beckham star Keira Knightley, from the villainous clutches of pirate captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

As if that's not enough to keep Orlando busy, he is currently filming Troy, Hollywood's epic take on The Iliad, in which he plays Paris, a prince of Troy, opposite Brad Pitt's Achilles, and will be back later this year in the final part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King.

The actor's private life has also hit the headlines recently. It was always believed that Orlando's father was legendary South African anti-apartheid figure Harry Bloom, who died when he was four. However the actor has just revealed that the man appointed his guardian, Colin Stone, a family friend, was actually his biological father.

This revelation was an exception to Orlando's usual reserve when it comes to his personal affairs, especially his love life. "I don't like to talk about that stuff," says the sought-after British star.

Orlando, you're starring in The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ned Kelly, Troy...what's with the period pieces theme here?

"What can I say -- I'm an actor, and I like to get dressed up! To be honest, it's just worked out that way.

"I don't sit around consciously thinking, 'Ugh -- here's a contemporary film, so I don't want to do it.' I've just been really lucky to have had the opportunity to work on some great movies that happen to be based on great stories -- The Iliad, of instance, is one of the best stories in the world."

Pirates of the Caribbean is a pretty good yarn too...

"Actually, that's a really intricate story -- it even got me confused. Even now, when I see it on the screen, I'm thinking, 'Okay...who's got the coin now and what are they going to do with it?' What I really like about it is that it has all the wonderful visual effects with pirate ships in the moonlight, and the supernatural elements and the romance as well."

It looks like you all had a lot of fun making it.

"We had the best fun. There was one time Johnny Depp, Jerry Bruckheimer [the producer] and I got flown to St. Vincent in a private plane to meet the Prime Minister. So Jerry was up at the front of the plane with his wife, and me and Johnny and Johnny's friend Sam were at the back of the plane and we sat there and drank red wine, and -- I don't know, maybe the altitude had something to do with it -- but when we got to the island we just, like, crawled off the plane, staggering.

"The Prime Minister was there to meet us, and he goes, 'Hey man, very pleased to introduce you to St. Vincent.' Johnny's friend crawled past him, didn't even stop. Johnny gave him a huge hug and kept kissing him, and there's me trailing after Johnny picking up all the stuff he kept dropping. It was crazy."

How was Johnny to work with?

"Brilliant. I think any actor of around my age would say that Johnny was his role model. He's the map, the gold standard.

"He's probably one of the best-looking guys on screen, yet he kind of morphs into these characters he plays and is so much more than just a guy who looks good on screen. It was great to work with him and find out that somebody I've looked up to for years really was everything I hoped he'd be.

Were you tempted to fall in love with your Pirates co-star Keira in real life?

"She's got a boyfriend, damn it! She's in love with him, he was around the set the whole time, and I couldn't compete! I was heartbroken!"

Are you dating anyone?

"Yeah, I'm sort of 'dating,' I guess, but I'm not in a relationship, although I don't want to talk about it too much because my personal life is my personal life. But if you ask me what I find romantic, I'd say it's the little subtle things you can do that mean more rather than the big gestures. But I'm not going to go into details."

When did you decide you wanted to work in the movies?

"When I was 11 or 12, we spent Christmas in Boston, and my cousin from Los Angeles was also in town, and we hired a series of videos to watch over the Christmas period, and one of them was The Hustler, with Paul Newman. It was a black-and-white film, and at first I thought, 'Ugh -- I don't know if I'm going to be impressed by this.' And, of course, Paul Newman was so cool in that, that I was incredibly impressed by him, and still am. That's the first time I remember thinking that maybe that was something I'd like to do, too.

"I think I had quite an advantage to know what I wanted to do from a very young age, because as I was growing up, I was able to make a beeline straight for it."

Did your mother encourage you?

"Yes, she was quite interested in both my sister and me being creative. She was always taking us to the theatre to see plays and musicals, and she'd do things like enter us into the Canterbury Festival, which was good because it got both of us used to being in front of an audience. As it turns out, we both decided to go into acting -- my sister is in her second year of drama school now."

Your mother must be proud of your success.

"Yes, she telephones me and gives me updates of stuff about me that's happening on the Internet. It seems to be quite busy, which is flattering. And it's useful that my mum is able to use the Internet and tell me about it, because I haven't got myself sorted out on that front yet -- I'm just not into computers at all."

What was the most influential event of your life?

"As far as my career goes, being cast in The Lord of the Rings was obviously incredibly important. But in personal terms, when I was 20, I had an accident when I was trying to get onto a roof terrace, and I got onto a drainpipe and fell three floors -- I landed between some iron railings and an old washing machine. I broke four vertebrae and three ribs, and bruised my spinal column, and they thought for four days that I might never walk again.

"It was a pretty dark and scary experience, but in many ways it was a blessing in disguise, because at the time, I was a drama student living in London and kind of racing through life, impatient to be out and working, and this really made me stop and pay attention, and learn to enjoy life while it was happening. It's like I was so close to losing everything, that everything I have now is a bonus."

2003 Hello!