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I Thought I'd Never Walk Again, Now (UK), January 2003
By Garth Pearce
scans and text from Margarete

Orlando Bloom has broken so many bones in his body that he thought he might have wrecked his career

Despite a near-fatal accident, the Lord Of The Rings actor has conquered his fears and has become one of Hollywood's fastest-rising stars

Orlando Bloom has battled through a life of tragedy and injury to become the bionic man of Hollywood. As one of Britain's hottest young stars, thanks to playing the handsome elf prince Legolas in The Lord Of The Rings, he has bounced back from breaking virtually every limb in his body and a terrible family tragedy when he was just four years old.

'I've learned to wake up each morning, smell the roses and enjoy every day as it comes,' he says. 'I try to never, ever grumble. Life's far too sweet to waste a single day.' Orlando, 25, was just four when his father died. 'That was far too young in life to suffer such a loss,' he reflects. 'My dad Harry was a professor of law at Kent University - he chose my first name because he thought everyone would remember it.'

'He also had the foresight, when he became ill, to appoint a close family friend, Colin Stone, to become like a father to me. He loved me like a son and has been a great guide in my life.

'He was never with my mother Sonia, but he was around as a father figure and I've always thought of him as that because he made himself available.' But Orlando's ill-fortune continued to blight him through childhood when he accumulated a series of injuries, including one near-fatal accident.

'I've broken my back, my ribs, my nose, both my legs, my arm, my wrist, a finger and a toe and I've cracked my skull three times. Youthful carelessness,' he shrugs. 'This is a battered body, all right. But, each time, it made me stronger and more determined to do things.'

The most dramatic was hurting his back falling off a roof. It left him having to wear two plates, six bolts and a brace for a year.

'I fell out of a friend's flat in Notting Hill and landed next to some rusty railings,' he remembers.'

'It was a miracle that I missed them and another miracle that I wasn't paralysed. I had some sort of neuro-damage and the doctors told me I might never walk again.'

'I was in surgery for six hours, but after all the bolts and plates were inserted I was able to leave hospital after 12 days, with a neck brace which I wore for the next year.'

'It was a life-changing experience because it was towards the end of my second year at drama school. Everything seemed to be going along the right lines and then this accident happened.'

'Perhaps, in retrospect, I'd been moving a bit too quickly through life. It was a wake-up call to beat all wake-up calls. There were then some issues about whether I was going to complete the course or not.'

'The school was worried the injury would stop me from working. But I finished the course. It all had a profound effect on my life.'

'It forces you to confront your deepest fears and the darkest areas of your mind. I think you learn more about yourself than you would otherwise.'

'My tutors at college would agree that it changed me and gave me more maturity. Up to then, I'd been too casual and perhaps not heeded all the other warnings, after various accidents.'

Orlando is convinced that his role as expert archer Legolas - who returns in The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers on 18 December - has somehow turned his luck around, both on and off screen.

'When the brace finally came off, I was able to finish drama school and two days later I found out that I'd got this big part in The Lord Of The Rings.'

'It was the most amazing feeling. I knew I was too tall at nearly 6ft for a hobbit, but to get the part that I did was very special. Then I heard the cast - Sir Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett.'

'It meant 18 months working in New Zealand, on three consecutive movies, getting all that experience, working with the best in the business and a chance to be in one of the most popular films of all time.'

'I thought: "This is what I've trained for - this is what I've got better for." And, despite my battered body, I could still ride horses and perform in the action scenes, feeling perfectly OK.'

Orlando's role of Legolas Greenleaf meant many scenes with actress Liv Tyler, who plays elf princess Arwen and whom he rates highly.

'She's a very sweet young lady,' he says. 'She'd give me pointers on this business when we trained together because we were both playing elves.'

Liv also gave him some valuable advice on the future. 'She said that if The Lord Of The Rings proved to be the big success everyone thought it would be, I should take advantage of being in a box-office hit,' he says.

'You can act really well in films, but if they aren't a hit then no one in Hollywood takes much notice. The film's failure is almost a reflection on the talent of its stars. 'So when the first film in the trilogy became the biggest hit of last year, the offers began to come in and I was ready for them. I felt there was no time to waste. I just wanted to get on with it.'

Orlando, who played a soldier in Black Hawk Down, another of last year's top movies, co-stars with Heath Ledger in upcoming release The Kelly Gang and with Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean. He also has the lead role in forthcoming Brit flick The Calcium Kid.

'None of this is about fame or money,' he insists. 'It's the sheer fun of life. I feel as if I've been given another chance, after all my injuries and the things that have happened. I can appreciate every single day.'