Boy Wonder, HQ (Australia), March/April 2003
By Angus Fontaine
typed by Pagan, scan from Pagan
Bloom’s is a face to notice, even in pointy ears or a beard. Just don’t tell
him to break a leg…
the face of the future and the distant past, a young gun smoking, an arrow on
the ascent and a pirate on the high seas of cinema. But Orlando Bloom is not on
this earth by virtue of his good looks and rare talent alone. No, it’s only the
will of the gods that has kept him alive long enough to ride shotgun to the
greatest bushranger of them all in Gregor Jordan’s Ned Kelly and become the big fat star he’s destined to be.
it an appetite for destruction. Call it throwing yourself into your work. For
Bloom, game time means pain time. In the last few years, the 25-year-old has
broken his back, some ribs, his nose, both legs, an arm, a wrist, a few fingers
and toes, and fractured his skull three times.
think one of the reasons I’ve had so many accidents is because fear is
something I’m utterly afraid of, more so than anything else,” says Bloom, who
“almost lost a kneecap” on the set of Ned
Kelly. “That’s why I put myself in uncomfortable situations so I can push
is my staple diet, my demon…and I’m pretty sure it was the Kelly Gang’s, too.”
that’s why the always-up-for-it Englishman has traded the elfin ears he wore as
Legolas Greenleaf in the Lord Of The
Rings trilogy for a Colt .32 and a life on the lam as Joe Byrne, loyal
lieutenant to Ned Kelly and probably the most enigmatic cat on horseback yet.
Byrne was an unlikely outlaw. Eldest son of respectable farmers, he was quiet,
handsome, educated, gifted with words (particularly in the company of the
ladies) and spoke several languages when he wasn’t smoking opium and laying
down lead for Ned.
the dark horse, the calm to Ned’s rage,” says Bloom. “He really is that
lukewarm water between the fire and ice of this story. And one thing’s for
sure, he would go to hell and back for Ned- and does.”
the outlaw, a lady-killer, a sharpshooter, a multi-linguist and an opium toker
such as Joe wasn’t as big a stretch as you might imagine for a man so enamoured
with the wild side of life as Bloom is.
yeah, man,” he laughs. “That’s just an extension of my real life!”
he’s not joking. In life or art Orlando Bloom’s never been the kind of guy to
let the door hit him in the arse. After loosing his father, anti-apartheid
activist and author Harry Bloom, when he was four, Bloom won a scholarship to
train with the British Drama Academy. He’d matriculated a week when he landed Lord Of The Rings, and the work has
flooded in since, culminating in Smokin’ Joe Byrne.
journey really is incredible. I had to keep reminding myself that he was only
21 when he died because he fit a lot into so short and spectacular a life,”
Bloom enthuses. “He fascinated me because where Ned is a fiery fighter, Joe
came at it more analytically. He was a big picture man.”
says he felt “a weird empowerment” while working on the film. “I think we all
felt the ghosts of those boys close by,” he says. “There were nights I had real
trouble sleeping and I blamed Joe. See, for all his composure under fire, Joe’s
opium use adds a real twistedness to his soul. That and the fact that he has to
pull the trigger on his boyhood friend to protect the gang. That’s the moment
where Joe loses his innocence, because it’s one thing to shoot a stranger,
another matter entirely to do it to a mate.”
own moments are many this year. It was another mate, Geoffrey Rush, who talked
him into his current project, Pirates Of
The Caribbean, currently shooting in the Bahamas with Johnny Depp as star
and Bloom breathing down his neck.
there’s The Calcium Kid, a British
mockumentary in which Bloom plays a milkman turned boxer who fights the world
champ in his home town. And the final installment of the Rings trilogy, The Return Of The King, is due in
December this year.
guess in the past I’ve lived a bit recklessly and not appreciated my life,” he
laughs. “But there’s nothing that makes you value life more than hacking around
the outback with guns causing havoc. I said to a mate the other day, ‘Man, I’ve
been an elf, a soldier boy, a boxer, a pirate and an outlaw.’ I really am
living every boy’s dream!”