Orlando Bloom - Legolas the Elf, Pavement (New Zealand), December/January 2003
Typed by Lady Legolas, scans from Elf Lady, Bemuuuuse, and Denise
He's the break-out star of The Fellowship of the Ring and a major sex symbol - which should make his many fans very happy when The Two Towers opens on December 19.
Orlando Bloom interviewed in LA by James Graham. Photographed at Chateau Marmont in LA exclusively for Pavement by Lionel Deluy.
Note to Peter
Jackson: if you’re reading this story, your Lord of the Rings protégé Orlando
Bloom has been meaning to write, he really has. It’s just that since you plucked him from an English drama school
to play archer elf Legolas Greenleaf in your epic three-part screen adaptation
of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, his career has exploded into a
fantasy world all of its own.
already being touted as a cross between Leonardo DiCaprio and heath Ledger, a
pretty-boy action here who has casting directors in a lather with his elegant
ranginess and dark good looks. Case in
point: no sooner had the Kent-born Bloom left his character’s famous blond
locks and pointy ears behind in Wellington, his adopted home for 18 months
during the LOTR shoot, he turned up as Todd Blackburn, the trigger-happy US
ranger who took that backbreaking spill from the helicopter in Ridley Scott’s
2001 hit Black Hawk Down. Now there are three more Bloom movies slated
for release in 2003: the British boxing comedy the
Calcium Kid, (his first lead); the bio of infamous Aussie outlaw Ned
Kelly, The Kelly Gang; and the
big budget high-seas adventure, The Pirates
of the Caribbean.
schedule is so tight that at press time, his commitment to filming Pirates – the other two films are already
in the can – had all but quashed hopes of him joining Jackson and his hobbit
pals on the red carpet for December’s New Zealand premiere of The Two Towers, the eagerly awaited sequel
to last year’s smash hit The Fellowship of
“I think I
only get two or three days off over Christmas so I’m not sure if I’ll make any
of the premiere’s,” a disappointed Bloom tells Pavement between a ship-stealing
scene with co-star Johnny Depp on Disney’s lavish Pirates set. “I saw The Two Towers for the first time a few
days ago in a screening room with the other cast members who are in town and
I’m still trying to take it all in.
know what I mean? Peter really is the star of this film. He’s done such
an amazing job with his team of effects people. They’re just seamless.
You wouldn’t even know.”
A few months
earlier, during a weekend’s break from filming The
Kelly Gang in Melbourne, Bloom jot a refresher course on the
magnitude of Jackson’s magnum opus when he returned to New Zealand to hang out
with the director, his writing partner Fran Walsh and their children Billy and
Kate. “Viggo (Mortensen) was there
doing reshoots; Liv (Tyler was there; I caught up with everyone,” he
enthuses. “It was really cool just to
say hi and see it all still going along.
It’s just crazy to see this huge project going on and on and Peter’s
still there in the thick of it. I can’t
believe it. It’s been two years and
I’ve made four other movies.”
25-year-old deftly sidesteps the inevitable question of which LOTR film he
prefers. He says you can’t compare The Fellowship of the Ring with the Two Towers because they’re essentially
part of the same story. (The trilogy
finale, Return of the King, is
released Christmas 2003.) “You need
this part [Towers] to go to the
last part. When you get the whole hit
of the three, that’s when you’ll know what’s been achieved,” promises
Bloom. “It could never have been made
as one story. They’re all part of the
same story and it’s fantastic. You
can’t really compare any of the three against each other”
So here’s what
to expect fro the Towers
story-line: The Fellowship has
scattered. Hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) struggle onto
Mordor to destroy the evil Ring, accompanied by Gollum, a creature degenerated
by his former ownership of the powerful Ring.
Meanwhile, Legolas (Bloom) teams with Aragorn (Mortensen) and Gimli the
Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) to find the problem-prone Hobbits Merry Dominic
Monaghan) and Pippin Billy Boyd) who were nabbed by the fiendish Orcs at the
end of the Fellowship. They get swept up in wars brewed by Saruman
(Christopher Lee) the wizard who battled Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) of whom you
haven’t see the last, despite his fatal plunge in Fellowship.
whole lot of cool stuff on horseback,” adds Bloom, clearly excited by the
finished cut. “For my part anyway,
there’s more danger and battles, all in the process of trying to help the
greater cause of the Fellowship. The
horse riding comes into play a lot more and we have great fun with that.”
tempered by a great deal of pain.
During one sequence shot around the hills of Queenstown, Bloom fell from
his normally trusty stead and fractured a rib.
He recalls the mishap between Legolas and his riding partner Gimli
(Rhys-Davies) vividly, as you’d expect.
With his mount fired up after five takes of sword waving and screaming,
Bloom was trying to come to a halt on a downhill stretch. But with the weight of Rhys-Davies’ fully
armoured body double pressing forward on him, exercising enough leverage on the
reins to stop his horse seemed impossible.
Fearing for their safety, Bloom bailed in full flight.
“I landed on a
rock and John’s body double landed on top of me, which broke my rib,” he recalls. “It was kind of painful at the time’” But
not serious enough to slow Bloom down.
His push-life-to-the-limit attitude has left him with more fractures
than a young Evil Knievel. The scariest
of these was a three-floor fall from a friend’s drainpipe a few years back that
for four days had him thinking that he might never walk again: “Then they
operated and I walked out of hospital in about 12 days.”
insists he’s not taking quite the same injury risk he did in his ‘youth’, this
natural-born adrenalin junkie was in his element in New Zealand. He surfed with the hobbits in Wellington’s
Lyall Bay, a five minute drive from his home in Seatoun, bungie jumped six
times of a 134-metre high bridge in Queenstown, went snowboarding, mad-dogging
(boogie-boarding down white water rivers) and laughed hysterically with
Monaghan as they sped down Queenstown’s Shotover River in a jet boat
centimeters from river bank rocks.
“I miss the
landscape, the people, the pace of life, the food, the lifestyle… Yeah, the
lifestyle, really. I like the big
outdoors. You know what I mean?”
wants to buy a home in New Zealand soon, will talk your ear off about his
adopted homeland and his experiences filming Rings.
The lifelong friends he made, the tattoo on his wrist of the Elvish 9 to
symbolise the bond within the nine-strong Fellowship
and the special book of on-and-off screen photos presented to Bloom and the
rest of the core cast by Jackson and Walsh are constant reminders.
But after such
an exhaustive publicity push with Fellowship,
the media-friendly Englishman worries he’s already recycling the same
anecdotes, such as the one about the night he was allowed home between takes
and crawled into bed with his ears still glued on. “I woke up with one of my ears stuck to the pillow and the other
there in perfect form, with my girlfriend at the time taking photos and
laughing. After two years away, it
really is hard to think of something new though” says Bloom, whose perception
of time is thrown out of kilter by the three-in-one nature of filming the
stories back-to-back, “What am I going
to be like by the time the third one comes around”
peppered through Towers even more that he Fellowship opener and three other
features in theatres by the time of its release, Bloom will probably become
even tougher to get interview time with.
Just type in his name on any internet search engine and the response is
nothing short of insane, especially when you consider the ensemble nature of
the film that launched him. There are
virtual alters, such as the “Orlando Bloom Estrogen Brigade’ and ‘Bloomin’
Marvelous’, while back at his agent;’ office the fan mail hasn’t abated since Fellowship was released.
So far, Bloom
is happy to report, there have been no stalker-type letters, although there
have been at least a couple he’d file under more ‘peculiar’ types of
correspondence. The first is a package
that came with biscuits blessed by the Pope, with pictorial proof of their
holiness; the other was a 160-page letter from a female fan outlining every
minute aspect of her life.
“I was advised
not to write back to that one.” Says Bloom who is definitely not dating actress
Christina Ricci, as one website report suggests and at press time preferred the
single life to focus squarely on work.
swears he never reads the fan sites on the net, Bloom says friends and
journalists always remind him of what’s being said and he’s very flattered by
the attention. But because he doesn’t
normally get around with a bow and arrow strapped to his back, a blond mullet,
pointy ears and leather strides, most public recognition, at least until the
release of his three follow-up films this year, is restricted to cyberspace.
Career-wise, LOTR has changed Bloom’s life in ways he
is still discovering, yet he insists his new-found celebrity status hasn’t
altered his personality at all.
I’ve grown,” admits Bloom. “I
understand what it means to be doing what I’m doing and I appreciate that
more. It’s more normal, more real. But as a person, no. I think I’m still the same. I’ve been trying
to maintain as much of a normal life as possible and not get lost in all this
world of other stuff. At the end of the
day, I love being an actor, the creative part of becoming a character. The stuff that surrounds it, now I’ve seen
what it’s all about, I’m not as intrigued about as maybe I was out of curiosity
to begin with. Once you’ve bee to one or
two industry events, you realize it’s the same old same old. I’d rather spend time with friends and
family, people near and dear to me. I
don’t see them that often because I’m working so much and for me it’s about
staying real and not buying into it.”
journalist asks him, Bloom, who was named after the hero in Virginia Woolf’s
novel Orlando: A Biography, says
he never thinks about what his life would be like if Jackson hadn’t picked him
to play Legolas. Maybe he’d be living
in London now, working in theatre and trying to break into film that way. Acting always seemed a calling, even from a
aware I’m in a very fortunate position and there are hundreds of people out
there who I’m sure have as much talent, if not more, to be doing the same thing
if they’d had the same opportunities,” admits Bloom. “It’s about timing and good fortune, all at the same time.”
“Of course, I
will always feel indebted to Pete. I’m
kind of loyal like that. He gave me a
fantastic opportunity and we had a great time working together. You only have to look at the Two Towers. I think he’s amazing. If Pete ever called me and said he wanted me
to be involved in anything he was doing, I’d drop most everything to help him
out. I feel very lucky to have worked
with him and Fran and the whole team.
They’re really great people and they’ve got a fantastic sensibility
about them. It made being in New
Zealand for 18 months a real pleasure.”
Bloom, who cut
his performing chops reciting poetry at local arts festivals, was just two days
away from graduating from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama when he
got the call that changed his life.
Through his agent at the time – Bloom had already made his big-screen
debut as a rent boy in Wilde (1997) – he first auditioned on videotape for the
role of Faramir, only to be called back later to read for Legolas.
quite believe that I was in the project until about a month into filming,”
admits Bloom, who made sure he’d read the books before his first day on
set. “Then we finally saw some very
rough snippets of a few scenes, not in any kind of order, about halfway through
the first year, which Peter showed us to help keep morale up. And I finally really understood what I was
seems to have found a niche in the type of big-screen characters he’s drawn to:
a crowd-pleading hero fighting for a greater cause.
there’s a kind of pattern emerging,” he agrees. “I like period pieces; I like the way the language flows. I like the idea of being a warrior. The elf is a warrior elf, not like a
fairy. I guess I’ve kind always lived
my life that as well. Know what I
“I think I am
going to do another one like that as well,” he continues. “At the moment I am in negotiations to do Troy with Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. It’s more epic-style action. It sounds very exciting. But at the moment I am enjoying being a
plays the blacksmith son of a pirate father he never knew he had, says his Pirates’ co-star Geoffrey Rush put his
name forward for the part and advised him to read the script during their wrap
party for The Kelly Gang. The clincher was getting the chance to work
with Depp, Bloom’s all-time acting here.
“When I think
of the great character actor, I think of Johnny Depp. But he’s also like this incredible leading man. It’s so awesome to be working with the guy
and he’s just the coolest, amazing, down to earth, normal, nice person.”
When Pirates wraps in February – Bloom still
has seven weeks of swordplay ahead in the Caribbean island of St Vincent – he
plans to finally do something about his homeless state and put down roots
closer to his acting sister Samantha and mother, who runs an English language
school for foreign students.
“I crave the
British countryside, even the over-cast wet weather,” says Bloom, who was born
in Canterbury. “I love just walking in
the woods. London has always been
home. It’s a hard city but it keeps you
real. I’ll always go back to London and
that’s where I’ll buy my first home when I have time to stop, hopefully after I
finish this film.”
would be to go between London and LA,” he concludes. “Pirates is the
first film I’ve ever shot in LA but obviously there’s a lot more happening out
here in terms of work. I have a cousin
(‘Bast’, a commercials director and photographer) who lives here and I’m slowly
building friendships and beginning to appreciate it a bit more. It’s becoming a bit more normal and
real. But I’m a country boy from England